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How to Write a Short Story in English- Step by Step Guide

As a writer, you might want to keep writing to excel your writing skills. However, writing long novels takes too much time and effort. Besides, there are very few people who are willing to dedicate months and sometimes even years to write a novel. Therefore, whether you are intending to write a short story instead of a novel or you just want to practice writing short stories to enhance your writing skills, you have come to the right place. In the article below, you will learn how to write a short story in English step by step.

How to Write a Short Story in English- Step by Step Guide

Step 1: Find a Simple Idea

Before you actually start writing a short story, the first thing you need to do is look for an idea for your short story. For some writers, it is as easy as ABC to find an idea. However, others find it hard because they need to scratch their head a few times to get an idea. Nevertheless, here are some tips to help you find an idea for your short story.

  1. Mine your own anecdotes: When it comes to establishing the foundations of a story, the easiest thing you can do is recall a past experience. There might have happened something that you would like to use as the basis of your writing a short story process.
  2. Start with an interesting character or scence: If there are not any past experience that have enough potential to become the base of your story, the next method is to start establishing an interesting scene or a charater to develop an iead. Unlike novels, you do not need to explain everything from start to end. For instance, you do not need to write where the character comes from or how the scence is built.
  3. Take inspiration from the mundane:If any of the above tips do not work for you, this one will definitely do. At any moment, if you look around, you will find that a lot is happening around you. So, you can take inspiration from your sorrouding too. All you need to do is pay a little extra attention and you will surely come up with something.

Step 2: Build the Structure

Unlike novels, you do not need to plot each even thoroughly, create details for your characters, or map the story according to a popular framework including a beginning, middle, and end. Because while writing a short story, all you need to do is build your main character strongly and develop main events with details.

However, it does not mean that a short story should not have an incident or a climax. Your short story can still have narrative components like novels do. However, these should not be too long. We suggest that you should keep these components a couple of sentences long. Moreover, instead of over-exposing incidents, try to start with scenes where the main character meets the incident and obstacles. And how the character overcomes it. This will help you remove extra details and get straight to the point.

Furthermore, since there are not any fixed style structures for a short story, we recommend you to be open and keep experimenting. A good example of such a story is “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor. Thus, reading others’ stories can also help you to find your style of writing and form the structure of your short story.

Step 3: Develop a Strong Openiing

The opening lines of any piece of writing are one of the most important parts of it. Similarly, while writing a short story, you need to keep in mind that within a few lines, you need to introduce your characters, set the right tone, and capture your reader’s attention simultaneously. Besides, you need to do it all with the speed of light. Because you have a couple of sentences to do everything. Otherwise, there is a huge chance that your reader might not stick to the end of your story.

Does it make you worry? You do not need to. Because there are many ways that you can easily achieve everything we have mentioned above.

  1. Start with an action: An easy way to start your story can be starting with an action that must be relevant to the story. Though it does not have to be very dramatic like a car crash but it can also be. Or it can be as simple as missing loosing your car keys. Thus, starting with an action can help you set the scene for emotional turmoil later in the story.
  2. Start with an insight: One of the most effective methods for starting a short story is starting with a hook. For instance, Virginia Woolf opens her story with “Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.”. This lines triggers many questions in the mind of a reader such as who is Mrs. Dalloway, what is the purpose of buying flowers and whether or not it is unusual that she is buying flowers herself. These questions makes the reader stick till the end to find the answers to them.
  3. Start with an image: Starting with an image is an other powerful way of opening a story. You can present your reader a strong image to start your short story that could a description of an object, a scene or a character.

Step 4: Write

The longest step of the step-by-step guide for how to write a short story in English is to write. Once you have successfully written your opening, it is time to write your story. However, while writing the story itself, try not to edit. We recommend you to go with the flow. Do not focus on spelling, grammar, or punctuation. The goal here is to get something out on the page. Thus, whatever comes into your mind, write it down. It is okay if your word choice is not the best or if there are any syntax errors. You can edit them later.

Moreover, there is no need to explain the backstory. Like an iceberg most of which is under the surface, instead of spoon-feeding your reader every detail, let them build the backstory themselves. In short, just write.

Step 5: Hit with a Strong End

The second last step to learn how to write a short story in English is to hit your reader with a strong ending. When you come to the end of your story, dashing off a quick end may seem the easiest. However, nothing is more disappointing to any reader than a beautifully written story with a weak conclusion. Therefore, take your time and try to come up with a strong ending to your short story. To do so, you can follow one of the following methods.

  1. To end your story, one of best way you can use is to describe what has changed about the character after so much may have happened.
  2. You can also end your story with something unusual. For instance, the end of your story might reveal that the character which may be your favorite character turns out to be a villian.

Step 6: Edit

The final step to learning how to write a short story in English is one of the most hectic steps. This is the editing step. This may require more time and effort. Meanwhile, you may need to change things here and there to refine the final product.

You can start with rereading your story and underlining things you want to alter. Besides, make sure that your sentences connect to each other and all of them connect back to your central idea. Or you can also ask another write to read and edit your short story.

In this step, you also need to check for syntax errors. For that purpose one of the best tools you can use is Grammarly.

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