My friend Tatiana Regan is a local journalist and a children’s short story writer who has sold quite a number of her books. It was her who I reached out to recently for some help in putting together a short story for a competition. I had always fancied myself as a bit of a writer but I had never really had much to do with short stories. Given that Tatiana Regan is not only a successful author in her own right, she is also a very dear friend who was more than happy to help me out with some tips. I really have Tatiana to thanks because I ended up winning that competition, and the prize was a weekend retreat! I wanted to share the help that Tatiana gave me, in the hope that it may help you as well.
When you are writing a short story it is imperative that you already know the full story in your head before writing it. Originally I wasn’t sure about the ending of my story and this caused me so much frustration but when Tatiana mentioned about getting it all in my mind first, everything became that little bit easier. like when you are writing a novel, a short story doesn’t allow you the time or space to work out the ending as you go along and so you must have it locked down first.
Quality over Quantity
This is something which Tatiana Regan continued to repeat to me when we were talking through some ideas for a short story and she really did have a point. There is no point including 20 characters into your story because you will never have the chance to develop them, if you can’t do this then you do the character and the reader a great disservice. When writing a short story then it is always a good idea to stay with just 3 or 4 characters maximum, more if they are simply extras who are mentioned and nothing more. When you are limited on space following Tatiana’s advice makes so much sense and it means that you can keep the reader’s attention and still deliver a great story.
At first I began to write the story as though I was writing a news blurb, with short and sharp sentences and with a punchy style. Tatiana thankfully gave me some advice here and said that whilst I don’t have to write long and detail-packed sentences, it wasn’t necessary to write the piece in shorthand. This is a temptation when you are writing a short story and so it is helpful to try and strike a balance between the two. Don’t over elaborate when you are writing the story and try to avoid making it too punchy, the balance is hard but when you edit the piece you will see the difference that it makes.
Tatiana’s advice helped me so much and whilst it was very simple, it also makes a large amount of difference to the quality of the piece.