9 Key Elements of a Short Story: What They Are and How to Apply Them

9 Key Elements of a Short Story: What They Are and How to Apply Them

If you’re new to short story writing, it can be intimidating to think of fitting everything you need in a story into a small word count. Do you need to apply certain elements of a short story in order for it to be great?

Writers like you struggle with this all the time.

You might want to develop deep character backgrounds with a huge cast of characters, amazing settings, and have at least two subplots. And that’s great. But that wouldn’t be writing a short story.

You might try to cut some of these things, and then all the sudden you don’t have a character arc or a climax or an ending.

Every story has basic elements; a short story’s basic elements are just more focused than a novel’s. But all those elements must be there, and yes, they need to fit into a short word count.

In this article, you’ll learn what you need to make sure your short story is a complete story—with three famous short story examples. These story elements are what you should focus on when writing a short piece of fiction.

How to Write a Short Story: 5 Major Steps from Start to Finish

How to Write a Short Story: 5 Major Steps from Start to Finish

Do you want to learn how to write a short story? Maybe you’d like to try writing a short story instead of a novel, or maybe you’re hoping to get more writing practice without the lengthy time commitment that a novel requires.  

The reality of writing stories? Not every short story writer wants to write a novel, but every novelist can benefit from writing short stories. However, shorts stories and novels are different—so how you write them has, naturally, their differences, too.  

Short stories are often a fiction writer’s first introduction to writing, but they can be frustrating to write and difficult to master. How do you fit everything that makes a great story into something so short?

And then, once you do finish a short story you’re proud of, what do you do with it? 

That’s what will cover in this article—and additionally resources which I will link.

How to Turn a Writing Prompt You Hate Into a Story You Love

How to Turn a Writing Prompt You Hate Into a Story You Love

There’s no shortage of writing prompts out there. We even do them with every post here on the Write Practice blog.

Prompts have a place in writing, whether it’s overcoming writer’s block or simply as a warmup to get your brain moving. Writing prompts are awesome.

Until they’re not.

What do you do if you hate the writing prompt you’re given?

How Long Does it Take to Write a Book?

How Long Does it Take to Write a Book?

How long does it take to write a book? Writing the first draft of a book is a grueling, intimidating process. But it doesn’t have to be a slow process.

Ask one hundred writers how long it takes them to write their first drafts and you’ll get one hundred different answers. There is no perfect length of time to spend on a first draft.

You will find, though, that the writers whose answer is closer to a couple of months than to a couple of years are most likely more successful.

How Characters Change in Stories (And How to Write Believable Change)

How Characters Change in Stories (And How to Write Believable Change)

You’ve probably heard this one before: Your character must change throughout the course of your story. Characters need to transform.

I see a lot of confusion over this concept. Writers can normally nail the change (weak to strong; bad to good; cynical to optimistic) but it often comes from a weird place that doesn’t sit quite right with what we know about the protagonist. Or it’s too big of a change (or too much of a “fairy tale ending”) to be believable.

Writers think that great characters need drastic changes, but this isn’t always the case. 

Let’s take a look at how writers should deal with character change, and how creating a character arc might make for a more interesting cast and plot.