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.

15 Haunted Halloween Writing Prompts

15 Haunted Halloween Writing Prompts

Writers write to get a reaction out of their readers. No matter the genre, you want your reader to feel something when they read your writing.

For horror writers, that feeling is fear. But it’s also so much more than that.

Great horror stories take the everyday creepy and turn it into something even more creepy (and often become a condemnation of injustices in society). And then, the great thing is, horror stories teach you that those creepy things can be beaten. That’s what keeps bringing the readers back.

And that’s why horror writers keep churning out the fear.

Maybe you love writing scary stories. Maybe you don’t, but this is something you’d like to take a whack at, just for practice (we’re fans about that around here!).

Just like reading outside your genre is valuable to mastering the writing craft, so is writing a scary story.

This story doesn’t have to be long, it could be a short story. Try for something you can write in one sitting, like 1,500 words.

To get you started, use one of the Halloween writing prompts suggested in this article. Then let loose, and have fun!

3 Reasons You Should Write Ghost Stories

3 Reasons You Should Write Ghost Stories

Ghost stories have a rich literary tradition, but for most of my life, I dismissed them. I don’t believe in ghosts, and I’ve seen enough horror movies to know I’m not interested in seeing another. However, I just finished Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams, a finalist for the Pulitzer, and was surprised to see a very moving account of a ghost.

It made me realize how many ghost stories are in the literary canon. There’s Poe’s The Raven, Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw, basically all of Nicolai Gogol’s work, and more recently Michael Cunningham’s Specimen Days, among many others I’m forgetting. We love ghost stories!

So here are three reasons to write a ghost story:

One Frightful Characterization Tip That Will Transform Your Stories

One Frightful Characterization Tip That Will Transform Your Stories

People are complicated. I know, that’s like saying, “Hey, fire is hot!” but when it comes to characterization, this needs to be said. Our tendency as authors is to stick imaginary people into tiny two-dimensional categories, forgetting that no human being fits into tiny two-dimensional categories.

One of the things that makes humans so confounded complicated is we are not logical.

7 Keys to Write the Perfect First Line of a Novel

7 Keys to Write the Perfect First Line of a Novel

Earlier this week, I read “Poppies,” a short story by Ulrica Hume, one of our authors on Story Cartel. Initially, I had only planned on skimming a few pages, but the first line hooked me. Before long, I was finishing the last page.

Great first lines have that power, the power to entice your reader enough that it would be unthinkable to set the book down. How, then, do you write the perfect first line?

100+ Fun Creative Writing Prompts for Kids (and Kids at Heart!)

100+ Fun Creative Writing Prompts for Kids (and Kids at Heart!)

One of the best ways you can foster a love of reading and writing in children is to offer lots of low-stakes opportunities to practice. These kids writing prompts can be used with any group of kids you’re working with: elementary school, middle school, or high school writers.

Prompts can help kids break through creative writing idea blocks or boredom. Whether in a slump or starting a new project, try a prompt a day and see what happens.

Keep it as simple as possible: one notebook or document, one location, the same(-ish) time each day, and a timer set for 5, 10, or 15 minutes.

Don’t let yourself edit, reread, or rework anything. Just write. Keep the pen moving across the page. There’s no wrong way to play.

Plus, there’s a great note for you, whether you’re a parent or teacher or both, at the end.

Give these fun creative writing prompts a try and watch how consistent practice contributes to ideas, confidence, and yes, even stronger writing skills!

Author Websites: 10 Steps to Building an Author Website (2022)

Author Websites: 10 Steps to Building an Author Website (2022)

If you’re like most writers I know, you probably dream of getting published. But as I’ve worked with writers for the last six years, I’ve found that most are woefully unprepared for what publishing actually takes, and this means that either they never figure out what it takes to get published or when they finally DO get published, they find themselves disappointed with the process and with how many books they sell.

How do you prepare for getting published though? There are several steps, but the first step is building an author website. In this article, I’m going to share a step-by-step guide to building a simple author website yourself that will support all of your publishing efforts.

Do You Use Quotation Marks or Italics for Song and Album Titles?

Do You Use Quotation Marks or Italics for Song and Album Titles?

I love music. I’ve been teaching myself to play guitar, and I can stumble my way through four or five songs without wanting to poke holes in my eardrums, but my main appreciation for music is when other people play it. I’m an avid Spotify user, and I take a lot of pride in my ability to make kickass playlists. One of my girlfriends has even given me the green light to create her hypothetical wedding reception playlist.

So obviously, when I write about a song or album, I know when to use quotation marks and when to use italics. Let’s discuss.