How To Make A Short Story Work

Making stories that you wanna make, and making the stories that people wanna read, can be two different things sometimes.

I have this short story, my very first short story in fact, called “Colony Sane” that I have been working on for almost a year now.

Writing the same story for such an extensive time can be exhausting, but it is, unfortunately, necessary when you are starting off as a writer. Because in the beginning of your writing career, or any career for that matter, you improve your craft incredibly fast; making slightly better garbage each time. Hence, my story has been revised more times that I can remember.

In any case, the idea was for the story to be around 30-40 pages long. But after some reviews, it seemed that was not possible. People wanted to learn more about the characters and the world I created, which is awesome criticism, but I didn’t want to make the story as long as they wanted it to be.

After my second major revision, I received the same criticism, that the world and the characters needed to be fleshed out. At this point, I considered ignoring the critique and simply publish it as it was. But I realised that their criticism wasn’t unfounded, it was their solution to the problem that was.

You see: more words doesn’t equal a better story. In fact, some of the greatest works are short stories.

So, how do you make a short story work then?

In my case, the problem was that the readers wanted to know more because the MC (Main Character) knew things that the readers didn’t. I had left out information just to keep the story short, which is a bad idea. The readers need to know exactly as much as the MC does, this is the key to a good short story.A lot of things can happen in the background and be implicit, but as long as the MC doesn’t know what’s going on, and sometimes never will, then the readers can accept not knowing as well.

I may end up expanding the story in the future, if the demand is high enough. Much like how Hugh Howey did with the Wool Trilogy. (Strongly recommend this story, by the way)

If you are curious, about Colony Sane, you can read it for free on Tablo. I am still editing it though

2 Comments on “How To Make A Short Story Work

  1. Interesting read. I’ll be sure to check out your short story. My problem with writing short stories (and I’m talking SHORT, like 5-10k) is that I feel like I need to include some big plot twist or powerful punch to make reading it worth while. I always struggle with coming up with a good plot twist that makes sense and is believable while still making at least some readers surprised.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi! Glad you liked it.
      The most important thing is not to force anything. Leave the story alone for a while and then come back to it with new eyes. You will be surprised how many new things you can add to the plot if you do.

      I got to admit, I haven’t read that many short stories, but is it really necessary to have big plot twists if the character interactions are interesting and the ending is satisfying and ties in with everything that you’ve written?

      Liked by 1 person

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