Book Reviews and Writing Tips

Book Reviews and Writing Tips

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Using Short Story Writing Tips to Write a Novel

Today people are in a hurry thus making way for the short story and flash fiction to become popular. A short story is usually less than 10,000 words while flash fiction is between 500 and 1,000 words. Micro fiction is also popular with a maximum word count of 300. This of course doesn’t work well for me, as I tend to go on and on, unless I’m writing a very short blurb about some cat escapade, so it would be quite a challenge for me to fit it all into this word count. Word choice is absolutely a paramount consideration. Everything here definitely has to be “show, don’t tell,” which it should be anyway, but I tend to get too descriptive to write any coherent story in 300 words. I think even 1000 words would be pushing it.

You can, however, use the tips here when novel writing. In short stories, there is still a beginning, middle, and end. You must deliberately choose every word to enhance the story and cut all others. Here are five techniques to use for setting a story into a small word count, or for using to create individual scenes in novel writing.

Choose an idea. When you’re writing a short story, there is no space for impressive plots and subplots. One small problem or situation will take all the word count. You will have a few characters in a short story and maybe the main character and one or two others in flash or micro fiction. This will still work out for scenes in your novel.

Start the story with action. There is no time for back-story. Dialogue is a good place to start with some emotion or important conversation in the middle of some action. This will hook the reader.

Immediately raise a question the reader will want answered. This is a way to invest people in the story from the first line.

Focus on a theme that will set the mood. It is important to have story continuity and not go off rambling. The story needs to be a picture of an event in time with all the pieces fitting together.

The ending is just as important as the beginning and should be a surprise, or a shock. Whatever you choose needs to sound logical to the reader, even a twist must make sense. The reader will be satisfied and glad they read the story if the ending ties up loose ends, answers questions and makes an impact.

Focusing on one event and using word choice is essential, but you can see how this technique can be a benefit in novel writing. Keeping everything short and to the point will add excitement and impact to your story.

What do you think? Comments welcome.


Unknown said...

Great post Sunni! While working on my novel, my editor also has me working on shorts so that we can address issues so that I learn in chunks, and can apply it to the bigger project.

Sunni said...

Thank you for visiting and commenting. I'm glad the post is useful to you.

I wish you would have posted a name so I can visit your site.


Sharla L. Shults said...

Very good tips, Sunni! Even though my genre is different, I can still relate:>) Thank you for visiting catnipoflife and leaving comments. In those comments, you mentioned fishing for catfish when you were a kid. Go to catnip and be sure to check out Inspiration: Red Wigglers? and the poem ‘Papa, Mr. catfish and Me!’ []

Sunni said...


I really think you could work those tips into about any genre, except maybe memoirs, although I'm writing a family book about some adventures we had on the farm growing up and I'm doing it in the form of a novel. We'll see how that turns out.

I'll have to check out your post on catfish.

Thanks for stopping by, reading and posting.

I think I'll do the blog awards post next, but haven't written it up yet.