Don’t Make These 4 Common Short Story Mistakes

by Emily Wenstrom | 34 comments

Short stories are a great way to hone your craft and snag bylines from literary magazines (and hey, they’re also a ton of fun to write). Even better, they can help you build your readership—assuming they’re written well.

Don't Make These 4 Common Short Story Mistakes

But alas, as the editor of a short story website, I see a number of common short story mistakes over and over again, even from authors with great fundamentals. Worse than just errors in craft, these mistakes betray readers’ trust and investment in your story.

Want to learn to write a short story? Check out our guide, how to write a short story from start to finish.

4 Common Short Story Mistakes to Avoid

Don’t lose fans before you even get them—help readers love you by following these four short story rules.

1. Don’t meander

Some stories want to lure you in slowly, asking readers to invest for paragraphs before we even know what the story is about.

No. No. NO.

This coy approach is almost never a good way to start a piece of writing, but it’s especially problematic in short stories, where every word needs to work double time.

Never ask a reader to earn their way into the heart of your story—instead, earn their attention by offering your story’s heart (and protagonist, and plot) up front.

2. Don’t use scene breaks

The thing about short stories is, they’re short. How many scenes do you think you can responsibly develop and ask readers to genuinely connect with in just a few thousand words?

Keep your short stories tight and compelling by maintaining a single stream of narrative, without the jumping around through various times or places.

If you catch yourself using asterisks, dashes or otherwise separating your story into segments, look out—you’re probably using a short cut, and readers don’t reward laziness.

Ask yourself: Is there any way around the scene break? Use that writerly creativity.

3. Don’t change point of view

Similar to scene breaks, there is a place in writing for shifts in point of view (see: Gone Girl). However, that place is almost never in a short story.

A short story is a small slice in time—the pinhead of a needle. Breaking it up with multiple points of view diffuses that moment the story is exploring… and most of all, it diffuses the investment the reader has made in your story.

Readers attach themselves to that first character you introduce. When you change it up on them, you burn readers for the good-faith investment they made in your narrative. Short story simply doesn’t give you enough space to earn back the readers’ trust.

If you feel you absolutely must get within the minds of more than one character in a short story, you’re better off sticking to third-person omniscient throughout. But first, ask yourself if it’s truly necessary and challenge yourself to find a way around it.

4. Don’t leave the reader wondering

To me, there’s nothing worse than making the personal investment to follow a story to its end, only to find that the end doesn’t offer a conclusion to the plot.

Why do so many writers do this? Did you max out the word count? Are you trying to be artistic and leave the end open to interpretation?

Whatever the reason, vagueness is never your friend as an artist. It’s fine to leave judgment to your readers’ discretion, but give us the facts we need to make those judgments—don’t make us guess about plot basics.

Nothing makes a reader angry faster than investing in a fun story only to find out the writer didn’t live up to his/her end of the deal.

To Write a Great Story, Nail the Basics

Writing is an art, not a science—there’s certainly a time to break any rule out there. But if you find yourself breaking one of these rules, think long and hard about why. Is it truly necessary? I’ve seen too many times when it isn’t.

Don’t let these common pitfalls hold you back from getting published and winning fans. Look out for them in your writing and take them as a sign to think hard about your story’s structure before pushing it out to the world.

Most of the time, it’s easy to fix once you take the time to think it through.

Do you write short stories? How do you feel about these short story problems above? Let me know in the comments.


Have you used any of these pitfalls in your own short stories? Go back to it and think—is there anyway to get around it? Odds are, there is. Take a stab at a rewrite.

Then, share your thoughts about how the drafts compare in the comments!

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By day, Emily Wenstrom, is the editor of short story website wordhaus, author social media coach, and freelance content marketing specialist. By early-early morning, she is E. J. Wenstrom, a sci-fi and fantasy author whose first novel Mud will release in March 2016.


  1. Trish Pederson

    There are things to fear and then there are things to put away. We can talk about our fear of flying or our fear of bugs or snakes. Fine. Borning. Make a weird sound and throw your head back. Or let that one breath escape through a fallen jaw hanging by your face. If you open it up again and again, it shrinks. So I did. At sixteen and spinning wild with roots of twice stubborn, mama lost her mind. If she was sane I saw no sense in her bringing me to two church ladies who were convinced they could cast out the demon in you. But since the battle of the wills always awarded mama, I went. I remember the cross examination and the hot breath of loud wild prayer. I could hear languages that were supposed to be tongues of God, but whipped me freah wounded and their straps left scars. Their eyes were dark as black beads broken and rolled away from the string, detached, and staring through me like lost ghosts. Their hands were cold and they told the ones front the pit of hell to come out of me. They screamed and tongued at me hour after hour. I had somehow let them in, opened a door through the cassettes mama’s ball hammer shattered, or through movies that tunneled through my eyes til they found my soul. After all, rebellion is as black wickedness. So I was, and mama wanted me white again. It took me two decades to really know God had sealed me up in Him and whatever they were trying to scream out was never there. Three to write about it.

    So are you still afraid of spiders?

    • SJR1991

      Dear Trish, I want to like this story more than I do. The descriptions of the exorcisms are wonderful. I can see and feel the experience of a teenager beset by these women, how scary it was. But the first few sentences I had to reread several times, or just skip over, because they were so confusing.
      1. Maybe the first two sentences are saying the same thing, making the same point, so I would suggest using only one of them.
      2. “Borning.” Is that a word in her church? or something else? maybe some other word, if it’s necessary, but I wonder if it is.
      3. “hanging your face” conjures an image to me of her jaw hanging next to her face. Is this what you mean? Or do you mean her jaw is hanging open? If the latter, than “fallen jaw” does it.
      4. In the next sentence, what does “it” in “it shrinks” refer to: her jaw? her face? something else?
      5. “So I did.” did what? if you mean making the weird sound or letting the breath escape, there’s a better way of saying that.
      6. Grammatical mistake of a dangler in this sentence: “At sixteen and spinning wild with roots of twice stubborn, mama lost her mind.” Isn’t it the narrator who is sixteen, not her mama? Maybe “At sixteen and spinning wild with roots of twice stubborn, I thought mama had lost her mind.”
      7. In the next sentence, “in you.” at end is unnecessary, and the change of pronoun, from “me” and ‘I” to “you” is confusing.
      8. Does that last sentence mean the narrator was making weird sounds or letting her breath escape to ward off her fear of spiders? I don’t think the reader needs to know that, and this reader feels it’s anticlimactic. Especially because the writing up to this point is so wild and energetic and evocative.

      Keep writing!

    • Trish Pederson

      Thank you for taking the time to really dissect my story. True story, by the way. First, I meant “boring.” I can’t believe I had that typo, but I did! What I meant was I was trying to get the reader involved by starting out with common fears we all share. Laughable fears. But what about real jaw-dropping fear or experiences we could write a short story about, just because they have something that swallows the reader whole?

      When I say “it shrinks” I mean the fear of returning to that place, that memory. I’m sure I could have been more clear here. The more we face a fear, the smaller it gets. When I say “so I did” I meant I kept opening up the memory until I wasn’t afraid of it anymore.

      You are right, I was the 16 year old and mama had lost her mind in my opinion. I needed to clarify that for sure.

      The demon in “me” would have been more grammatically correct.

      The last sentence is just wrapping it all together and tying it to the first sentence. I am asking the reader, after hearing my story, are you still afraid of spiders? Meaning a silly fear.

      Thank you again for taking the time to help me to take a second look at what my writing is missing. It is so appreciated!

  2. James Ory Theall

    Emily, great advice. One question: How do you define a “short story?” As writers, we are so often faced with that question, and I can never find a definitive answer. You may be able to provide the definition. Thanks for the advice, and I’m eagerly awaiting your response.

    • Emily Wenstrom

      James, this is a great question, and different people will give different answers. On my website we publish 2500 words or fewer, but Writers Digest says short stories can be anywhere from under 1500 words to 30,000.

      Perhaps most simply, if it’s a complete story and it’s shorter than a novella, you’ve written a short story!

    • Noor Ali

      @emily please comment on my story too

  3. AR Neal

    Number 4 certainly gave me a lot to think about. How do you identify a story that leaves judgment to the reader versus one that falls off the cliff? Might you have examples?

    • SJR1991

      I, too, would like an answer to this, since I am currently writing a
      very short story in which I intend to leave the protagonist with a
      dilemma, but I want the reader to think about the consequences of either
      choice without deciding myself what she is going to do.

    • Emily Wenstrom

      Here’s an example — consider if, at the end of Romeo and Juliet, the reader was left on a cliffhanger without ever knowing if Romeo killed himself or not. We’d be left wondering, too distracted to fully grasp the depths of this tragic story.

      Or another example of a non-conclusion that is meaningful and effective–the infamous end of the movie Inception, where we’re left wondering if [SORRY, SPOILER ALERT, MAJOR, MAJOR SPOILER ALERT] any of hte proceedings of the entire movie were real in the first place. This one works because of its crucial thematic tie to the movie’s core of questioning reality.

      If you’re avoiding the ending because it just feels poetic or because you’re not sure what happens next, dig deeper and find that conclusion.

    • Tom Farr

      Good question. I think a story that leaves judgment to the reader will leave enough clues that a reader could clearly infer a certain outcome without directly telling the reader what happened. Without those clues, though, I think you end up with a story with no closure.

  4. JujuBee

    Emily, you have given me a real conundrum here. As a writer of my first short story, I have a problem with wanting to give my characters a personality—showing their foibles and their endearing or not so endearing qualities. I am writing a non-criminal mystery, as I feel a good mystery doesn’t need to be TV14 rated. However, as you can tell, It is difficult for me to make a point without writing a book every other sentence. In other words, it scares me to go back and cut out what I have come to expect as an avid book reader. This story is just a break from writing an emotion packed story about the dark side of my past life. Writing in any form is pretty new to me. Thanks for your much-needed advice.

    • Emily Wenstrom

      Bear in mind that books and short stories are different, and you don’t need to emulate what you read in novels to write a good short story! Let your rough drafts be whatever they need to be, but once you’ve had some distance and go back to edit, be ruthless in your cuts! If you’re afraid about losing writing you’ll want later, save your edits as a new document–then you can always go back if you regret it, and you’re free to experiment with cutting as much as you dare. Practice will help you get more comfortable with it, but to start, Juju, I dare you to cut without hesitation. Good luck!

    • Hannah Jay

      Short stories are incredibly difficult because each word needs to pack a punch and less is more. I learnedd this in my writing classes, yet it is still so hard to accomplish this brevity.

  5. Kenneth M. Harris

    Everything that I have just read regarding writing short stories, I probably have already done all of them. I just submitted my first short story about an hour ago. The four common mistakes to avoid already has me thinking about the next one. I loved that line that the story has to be tight. I understand this even more now that I have read the four mistakes. Hopefully for the next short story, I will see a difference. Thanks so much. KEN

    • Emily Wenstrom

      Thanks Ken, I’m so glad these points where helpful. Good luck with your future stories!

  6. Tom Farr

    Great tips, though I’m not sure I agree with number 2 as a blanket statement. Super short stories can and should focus on one scene because they don’t have the word count to go further, but since short stories can be anywhere from a few hundred words to 20,000 words, the longer they are, the more scenes you might have. I think it depends upon what kind of story you’re telling.

    I tend to write fast-paced narratives that sometimes feature scene breaks simply because I’m leaving the boring transitional stuff out. With a recent short story I wrote, I did two scene breaks because it went from someone talking on the phone at home to traveling to a strange town. I skipped the actual travel and began the next scene with the character driving into the town. Then the main character is knocked unconscious shortly after going into the town. By necessity of what has happened to my character, I began a new scene with her waking up and discovering what has happened to her. Of course, I could be wrong, and if it turns out my readers hate the story, then I know how to fix it.

    Generally, I would tell people to focus on one scene in a short story, but I do think there’s room for more if the story you’re telling calls for it and you’re super economical with your words.

    The other three tips are spot on. Changing point-of-view can really throw a reader out of the story. Nobody likes a story without closure. And you have to action of the story started right at the beginning, or you’ll lose readers quickly.

    • Emily Wenstrom

      A good point — “leaving the boring transitional stuff out” sounds like a legitimate exception to the rule, with sound reasoning behind it!

  7. Noreen Wills

    Thanks for these points Emily
    I agree wholeheartedly with no1, definitely need to get into a short story early. I’m not so sure about No 2 though, I nearly always find I have to change time frames, usually through flashbacks, to establish the protagonists back story

    • Emily Wenstrom

      Noreen – it can definitely depend on the story, but if flashbacks are something you find you need in most of your stories, I’d challenge you to try this exercise — write your rough draft however it comes out, but when you go back to edit, try eliminating all the flashbacks and read the story without them. Is there truly missing information that is necessary for the story to make sense? Can you add in the missing pieces through context and avoid the flashback? There’s a place to break every rule, but challenge yourself to avoid it when you can.

  8. juanita couch

    The Master Manipulator

    No matter how far she went or where, Amy could not escape. She
    was on the run like a criminal. Unfortunately, her efforts did not deter the
    master manipulator who ruled her life against her will.

    Fifteen years of agony, heartbreak, distrust, fear, and pain
    began when earthshattering news turned their world upside down. Actually it
    began many years before that, but she was a naïve teenager who loved
    unconditionally and expected the same from the person she gave her love to.

    They married and she thought their world was perfect. They had
    a son and then three daughters. Her family was as she wanted it. She had always
    dreamed of being married and having four children.

    Oh, how blind she was.

    As their children grew she was troubled many times about the
    relationship between her children and their father. She often told me, “He must
    hate his children, especially our oldest daughter.”

    When they were little he enjoyed showing them off for all the
    world to see. As they began to develop their own personalities he seemed to
    resent them.

    Life went on with her doing her best to protect her children
    from any unpleasant situations and sometimes interceding when necessary. That
    put her at odds with her husband.

    She did the best she could. Or she thought she did but as she
    looked back on those years she realized that she was not prepared for life in a
    dysfunctional family. She grew up in a family she compared to the Cleaver
    family in Leave It to Beaver, the popular series for television. She didn’t
    realize how much knowledge she lacked in how to deal with problems of everyday

    Her youngest daughter, Tammy, was fifteen years old and began
    refusing to go to school. There were friends of the family who knew what was
    going on but no one shared any of that with her. She knew there was a problem
    but had no idea of what it was. One of the knowing friends took them to the
    school to talk to the counselor.

    The first question from the counselor was, “Has someone hurt

    There was no answer until Amy promised Tammy she would not be
    angry with her. The counselor asked the same question over again. This time she
    also asked, “Who?”

    “Dad,” was her daughter’s response with her head held low.

    Amy was shocked. Her husband was a deacon in the church. No
    one ever suspected he could do anything like that. She knew there was some
    antagonism between him and their four children but chalked it up to childhood

    She called her mother and stepfather, who was a retired
    minister. They came up and took her to get her husband from work at the end of
    his work shift. As they were on their way home, she told her husband that they
    had something serious to discuss.

    His only response was, “I didn’t do it.” He didn’t even have a
    clue as to what they were going to discuss.

    They checked their daughter into the hospital psychiatric
    unit. While there she accused him to his face of raping her.

    After she was dismissed, Amy took her and they moved into a
    shelter. Their time came for them to leave the shelter, so Tammy went to her
    oldest sister’s apartment to stay until Amy could find them a place she could
    afford. Amy stayed awhile with me.

    She finally found a house and got some help to pay the rent
    and utilities temporarily.

    We didn’t know when the police got involved in their
    situation. She was attending college and so was not home during the daytime. We
    did not even hear about any trial but was told he got a slap on the hand since
    he did not have any record prior to this time.

    That statement planted the first seed of distrust. She could
    not even get her daughter home where she belonged until the powers that be
    agreed to the circumstances.

    They moved into their new home, and within a few weeks her
    husband started following her friends when they came to visit her. He tried
    everything he could think of to get her to reconcile with him. She knew she
    could not do that. Of course, he always accused her of not giving him a chance.

    Her stepfather took her spinet piano and sold it for enough
    money to buy her an old car that seemed to be in pretty good shape.

    She filed for divorce. He didn’t even show up for the hearing
    and Amy was granted a divorce. She thought maybe he would get the picture and
    leave her alone. Naivety rears its ugly head again.

    Whenever they would talk, the conversation would go around in
    circles for hours without a solution. She soon learned his tricks and tactics.

    Amy and her daughter moved out of town. First she moved in
    with her mom and husband until she could get a job and a place of their own.

    While staying with her mom and stepfather, she traded her big
    gas guzzling car for a more economic one.

    She got a job and found a place she could afford.

    She enrolled her daughter into school where her cousin went
    and they were already good friends. All seemed to be going pretty well for them.

    The stepfather gave her husband her telephone number saying
    he really felt sorry for him. Amy’s ex-husband started calling her, telling her
    she was not giving him a chance, using the guilt he placed on her to convince her
    that she was wrong to divorce him. He used her relationship with God to place
    guilt on her.

    Amy finally agreed to make some attempts at resolution and
    had to go through three years of diversion counseling required as part of his

    She agreed to remarry him after being divorced for about a
    year. Their daughter was moved back in with her oldest sister.

    Amy’s middle daughter was in a relationship with her
    boyfriend and was spending most of her time at his house. She was given a
    choice to go with them when they moved but chose to stay with him. Amy missed
    her and did not like the arrangement but she was determined to do what she

    From that time to fifteen years later Amy said she felt like
    a guard in prison. She began distrusting him, guarding that he couldn’t touch
    another child.

    About five years after they were remarried, they moved to a
    small community. It was the two of them. They joined the church and became
    involved in the community.

    During this period of time their oldest daughter and the
    middle daughter each got married and started their own families. The youngest
    daughter struggled with her life and had three children, the two oldest with
    the same father. The third with another man she barely knew. Her oldest
    daughter lived with the other grandmother.

    The youngest daughter, was having some financial difficulties
    and asked if she could take her two youngest, a boy, three, and a girl, two,
    until she could get on her feet. She took them until her daughter moved to the
    town where Amy and her husband were living a year and a half later.

    In 2001 Amy had knee surgery. She used the pain from the surgery
    as her excuse to sleep in the other bedroom. He constantly nagged at her to
    sleep with him. Because she knew how much he needed sex, so according to him
    she was being unfair. The truth was she was scared of him.

    Things went downhill from that point and on Mother’s Day 2001
    she left.

    She spent some time with her youngest daughter. She qualified
    for low income housing and moved in there. She lived there about three weeks
    and he kept bothering her.

    Her oldest daughter’s husband helped move Amy to Kansas City,
    Kansas to live with them and their family.

    She got a job with a temporary service and worked nights. She
    liked the job but didn’t have transportation. She made arrangements with a
    young man she worked with to give her a ride back and forth to work.

    Amy was going through depression and it bothered her daughter
    so much that Amy moved in with a lady she worked with. The friend was fired
    after a while and wanted Amy to give her all of her paycheck. Amy was still
    working nights and trying to sleep during the day. Since the roommate no longer
    worked she was home all day. She would wake Amy up several times wanting money
    from her. She would not leave her alone even after Amy paid the agreed upon
    share of rent and food.

    Amy couldn’t take it any longer and when the roommate left
    the apartment she packed everything she could carry in a duffel bag and walked
    the three miles to her oldest daughter’s salon. There was a cot in the back
    room and her daughter let her get some sleep there.

    A friend of a friend, a proclaimed Christian single lady told
    Amy she could stay in the second bedroom. After three weeks Amy was given three
    days to move out with accusations that she was more interested in getting on
    welfare than looking for a job.

    Amy was devastated. That woman had no way of knowing the
    trouble Amy had trying to get downtown to put in applications. Using a cane Amy
    had to walk three blocks to catch the bus and get around downtown sometimes
    having to stand and wait over an hour for the right bus.

    Amy moved out the next day and called her son to help her move.
    They got everything except her day bed which they did not have room for in the
    van. She stored the rest of her stuff at her son’s house.

    That morning Amy was scheduled to attend a job search
    meeting. Everyone there was asked to give their name and a little information
    about themselves. When Amy’s turn came, she broke into tears and told them that
    she had just been asked to leave the place where she lived in two days. The job
    service worker took her aside and found her a bed in the Salvation Army

    Amy looked for a job every couple of days or so. When she didn’t
    have transportation, she would watch the children of the other residents who
    had transportation and were looking for homes or work. She stayed there for
    about three weeks until she became paranoid that the front door would open and
    he would be there.

    It bothered her so much that it caused her to have a
    breakdown. Her daughter-in-law took her to the hospital where she checked herself
    into a psychiatric unit.

    Her daughter-in-law felt there was a problem with her
    granddaughter, Tammy, the youngest daughter’s youngest. She confronted her
    about it and was told that “Yes. He had molested her since the time we were
    supposed to be taking care of her and her brother.” Her mother went to the
    police and Amy’s husband was arrested.

    Her oldest daughter called her at the hospital and told her
    that he had been arrested. At first she was angry beyond words that he could do
    it again and secondly relieved that he was where he needed to be, in jail. She
    felt safe now and left the hospital.

    She knew they were all safe because he could not afford to
    bail himself out. Amy went to his primary hearing to support Tammy. She never
    said a word to him. He pled guilty and was sentenced to three years in prison.

    That is the last time she saw him. She told me, “I have not
    divorced him again. I am relying on God to tell me if I should divorce him.”

    Her children informed her that if she ever went back to him
    they would disown her. That was not a problem because she did not want any
    relationship with him.

    “I will never speak to him or see him as long as I live if I
    can help it. I know two things; one, that he had a terrible illness that
    consumed him, and two that he himself was responsible for his wrecked life. He
    was a lonely man who lost his family, a loving, faithful wife, the respect of
    anyone who knew him. He still tried to be the master manipulator” said Amy.

    Her four children and her granddaughter lost their father and
    grandfather and to this day do not even claim him as their father/grandfather.

    There are hurt feelings towards Amy from all of her family. She
    has tried to explain that she knew nothing about what he was doing to them.

    “How could I know, when no one let me know what was
    happening? I guarantee that I would have put an end to it in the beginning if I
    had only known.”

    Amy had been kidnapped and raped by a stranger when she was
    seven years old and she always tried her best to keep her girls safe from that
    happening to them.

    “Rape, incest, and all sexual crimes are rampant in our world
    today. These crimes affect our children for the rest of their lives. Their
    trust in those who brought them into this world is either severed or badly
    damaged. Some can never heal.”

    “From the very bottom of my heart, I have one request for
    anyone who might read this. Please talk to your children as soon as they are
    old enough to understand and continue to help them know what to expect and how
    to handle any unwanted attention. Talk to them so that they will know they can
    come to you. Teach them how to find someone to help them; a trusted person, be
    it a parent, a pastor, police officer, school teacher, or even a close friend
    who may help them to take the step. Develop a safety word or phrase which would
    only be used between you and your child if they are in a situation of needing
    immediate help.”

    Amy is by no means an expert but she has been through her own
    and her children’s personal hell.

    Addendum – the master manipulator died one week after I wrote
    this article of a massive heart attack. Amy will never have to talk to him or
    worry about him bothering anyone ever again.11111111111111111

  9. Sandi Cote (Bollman)

    I’m just a beginner writer, so I want to learn the whole ins and outs about how to become a great writer in simple form that I can understand. I wrote one short story already. Friends and family have read it and they loved it. Then just a few days or so ago I sent it to someone that’s on Linkedin to review and they basicaly said that it sucked. One of my mistakes was that I didn’t follow the “show” and don’t tell rule which I competely understand that. However, I don’t see why that would make my whole story suck. Please help me out. Thank you.

    • Emily Wenstrom

      Sandi – “show, don’t tell” is one of the trickiest rules to get a really good definition on, but the more you write the more you get the hang of it. The problem with this particular rule is that it refers to descriptions that make readers feel they are IN the moment themselves (show) vs descriptions that separate the reader from the action (tell).

      Now, I’m a big believer that no one error will make an entire story “suck” — so I’m sure there is something in your story that is compelling if your family loved it. But, when it comes to publication, the competition is fierce. So that’s why we do all we can to learn from critique and improve. Check out this Write Practice article to explore “show, don’t tell” further:

    • 18pminus1

      Here my attempt at a short story.
      It is writing through a character eyes.

      It had been a long day I sank down into the comfy arm chair and glanced around discarding the white collar around my neck.
      i open my computer to set up the next service to find nothing but a blue screen.

      I stared at it in horror not now all the hymn gone the reading gone.
      I glanced at the time but the thing remained blue.

      I ran a hand through my hair, I was going to have to..
      What was I going to do? My careful planing gone.I glanced at the clock again the laptop was still blue.

      I turned it off and on nothing soon the screen did not even turn on.
      I reluctantly turned it off. Running a hand through my hair now ruffled I stubbed my toe. Winced I hit my leg against the table tripped over the rug and fell flat on my face.

      What was I going to say? How could I rescue this?

      The trouble was I had never done a sermon or service without the laptop all those hymns. I had looked forward to seeing.

      I pushed myself of the floor rubbed my cheek grabbed my collar and robes and rushed out.

      I took the pulpit and stared out my lips were dry and I felt myself go hot.

      They were waiting and I sighed I told them about the laptop.
      The screen was brought up and the book rushed out.
      still what was I going to say?

      It was rather normal to start of with a opening pray or call to worship.
      but then I could think of nothing to say and I ran a hand through my hair
      The clock ticked louder in the gaps. Still I stood there. I could feel my legs go why was this happening what was wrong with me?

      I tried to speak but words were not plucked from the air.
      my phone rang I mutter excuse me and soon I had my hand over my eyes. The phone fell at my feet as the cross from above crashed down
      hitting the pulpit! I stared at it and felt my legs go a mobile call saved my life and I had to sit down but shakily I open the bible and prayed.

      I flinched and fell backwards on of the stewards caught me.
      I held the book near my chest I could not finish.
      I prayed to him to give me strength and re-enter the den.

      Then it happen the bible slip and fell on my foot I covered my mouth as I fell down from the pulpit and ending on the floor.
      I grabbed the rail and pulled myself up away I was hurting it was like nothing I felt before and I looped awkwardly back up there.

      I …It was horrible. I lent on the rail and I prayed my leg ached
      It was a while later I woke up in a clean hospital ward and I glanced down.

      My leg was strapped above me in a cast.
      I hobbled out. The doctor looked straight faced as he told me.
      I would never walk properly again.

      He was right sure enough I lumbered out I could now hardly
      stand and lumber with a cane only if that computer worked.
      the day would be a better day I turned it on and it was still blue.
      Then I hid my head in my arms and wept this echoed around the barren room.

    • Sandi Cote (Bollman)

      Emily, I finally realized that and understand it. However, my biggest problem is with the grammer and punctuation. Thank you for replying.

    • عادل مظفر العولقي

      Me too , I always try to write properly. so I hope I can write a short story that could admire leaders. moreover that whenever I begin writting a letter or a story, the

      broplem is my thinking by Arabic expression. Inspite of that I will not lose hope , and I will continue in gain the best tips which can help me improving my writting. this is my abmitious to become a writer one day .

  10. เм ƜƦเ†เиG (ง'̀-'́)ง

    Such punch in the stomach! 😀 but a good one 🙂
    we enter so much in how to write a novel, that we forget short stories are another world

  11. Noor Ali

    It was the middle of the night and very dark. A cat was walking along the road and caught a glimpse of a dog, sitting under a tree near a house. The cat asked,”Why are you sitting here all alone?The weather is unpredictable and it can rain any time.”
    The dog replied weepingly,”I was asked by my master to leave his home. I have been living with him for many years so, I have decided that I should sit outside his home forever as I’m a loyal animal.”
    The cat replied,”I feel sorry for you. I told you before as well that you should not waste your time, service and loyalty to a man because men are never loyal. Since they are not true to their own relations, how could you expect them to be loyal and faithful to an animal?”
    Suddenly storm broke out; the sky brightened fully when lightening struck and a loud rumbling noise was also heard.
    The dog said to the cat,”Dear cat, you should go now as it has started raining heavily. Go and find shelter otherwise you shall be lost.”
    Cat replied,” Let we both move and look for a safer place.”
    He tried to convince the dog to accompany him but the dog refused and said angrily,” I won’t leave this place because I’m a LOYAL animal and I ‘ll stay here for my whole life.”
    After listening this, the cat left the place and told the dog that he would come to meet him in the morning if the rain stopped.
    Next morning when the sun rose on the sky, the cat went to meet the dog. He couldn’t find any one there but a dead body; it was of the dog. The cat realized that the dog had died in the heavy rain and buried him in the sand. The cat wiping his tears off thought that the dog left this world because of his loyalty.

    MORAL: One should be loyal to one who deserves it.

    • Noor Ali

      Can any one read and critic on my above story . It ll help me to improve my writing skills

    • Emily Wenstrom

      Noor, what a sad, but compelling, story 🙁 The simple, straightforward language has the feel of a fable, which works well for what you’re doing here.

      However, I think you could illustrate your moral better with more information in the story. How could you show how loyalty to one who deserves it is rewarded? Where is the tension in this story? I’d also encourage you to get closer to the perspective of one of the characters, as that can help readers connect and invest in a story.

      Good luck! Hope this helps.

    • Noor Ali

      Thank you Emily. I’d always love to hear from you for my writings 🙂

  12. عادل مظفر العولقي

    , I always try to write properly. so I hope I can write a short story that could admire leaders. moreover that whenever I begin writting a letter or a story, the

    broplem is my thinking by Arabic expression. Inspite of that I will not lose hope , and I will continue in gain the best tips which can help me improving my writting. this is my abmitious to become a writer one day .

  13. Mikolaj

    That number four though.
    If you’re missing a crucial finale piece of the story ending, well, the last scenes usually make or break a story. Don’t leave it out.


    The actual artsy short stories are based around a single idea which the author wants to convey. The plot is built around it, and it is supposed to embellish this idea to make it obvious, or at least entertainingly elusive. However, the plot is NOT the important part of the story, and the author of an “artsy” short story should make sure the readers quickly hone in to the fact that there is a deeper meaning. What’s a great way to do that?
    Leave out part of the plot which isn’t important to the idea, like the end.

    This is actually a great technique which I myself have used only once (still trying to fit it somewhere). This distracts the reader from the plot, or at least makes them think about what was given to them in previous pages, which always should lead them to the big idea.

    Tada. It works.

  14. Ammon Bowman

    I dont know haw many of you have read “The Interlopers” by Saki but it does break number 4 It leaves us wondering what happened and its annoying honestly I dont really like that short story very much because of the way it ends. Otherwise its a well written short story, in my opinion anyway.

  15. LaraAsh

    I am new to this program and I recently wrote a short story just from my mind. I didn’t think about any of these things and now that I read the article I see that I made all 4 mistakes. So there’s going to be a lot of rewriting.



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