If you want to write exciting short stories, it’s not easy. The shorter a text is, the greater the danger of boredom. I’ll show you why.
you’ve probably experienced this phenomenon yourself: You start to read a short story. But even though you know that the text is not very long, you are already putting it aside.
Why? How many times have we been tormented by the first hundred pages of a really bad novel, in the hope that sooner or later the story will take off and cast a spell over us. So why do not we even make it on the first page of many a short story?
The ratio between storytelling speed and overall length
The solution is simple. The reader subconsciously sets the narrative tempo of a text in proportion to its total length. If a novel has 400 pages, then the reader knows from his reading experience that the beginning of his story can ever go over 100 pages. But then it should start right now.
If a short story is only 12 pages long, the reader unconsciously gives the text only a maximum of 3 pages before he loses interest. If your short story is only one page long, you only have an average of 7 to 10 lines left to captivate the reader.
The three main mistakes in writing short stories
Capturing the reader with the first lines is easier said than done. Because you may want to write an exciting short story, but in my experience we rarely have a short story idea in mind. We all think big. Therefore, most of the authors I meet in my writing classes also want to press a novel idea into a short story. And that leads to the three most common mistakes that I have experienced in connection with writing short stories:
1.) too much history
In a short story, you have absolutely no time to explain complicated context to your reader. If that’s necessary to understand your story, your idea is in a novel, not a short story.
2.) too much action
Even a short story wants to be well told. You will not succeed if you want to accommodate too many steps in your short story.
3.) too many figures
Every new figure demands the full attention of the reader. Having to remember several names with the associated characteristics in a very short time, is like a memory game. The reader is not in the big Jeopardy finale, he wants to sit back and be entertained by you.
Write exciting short stories – that’s how it works
Drop the reader right into the action! You have probably read that often. And in your opinion, you’ve always done that. So what are you doing wrong? So what exactly does that mean?
Those who attend a writing course with me will hear the following sentence from me again and again: action comes from action . No genius story is exciting until your main character does not do anything exciting. If you want to captivate your reader right away, jump straight into an action in your short story. Ideally, your reader knows with the first sentence:
- who is your main character
- in which narrative perspective you write
- which genre (thriller, love story, fantasy, horror, etc.) is involved
Do you want to write exciting short stories, the following things do not belong in your beginning:
Use the plot of your main character to clarify where she is, what she looks like, etc.
Much better, you make your main character do something exciting and the action itself on the reader’s work. He will want to find his own answers. So he reads on!
Start your short story directly with the big problem
In every story there will sooner or later be a problem to solve. Your main character encounters an obstacle or has to complete a task. Often one also speaks of a conflict . While a novel can take a lot of time to prepare for this problem, in the short story it at best appears directly in the first line.
If this problem is particularly serious or shocking, it is also called a bang . If you want to write exciting short stories, such a bang can be an effective way to captivate your reader from the first line.
Important: This problem is only interesting if it has to do directly with your main character. That is, it affects your main character and can only be solved by them alone.
A tip at the end: in short, the seasoning is
A short story is short. You have little room to get to the point. So use your place efficiently! Give up on trivialities and long, awkward phrasing. Write short, concise and direct.
If you want to write exciting short stories, it’s a little bit like the action movie. Think of the big Hollywood blockbusters like Speed or Fast and Furious . They take our breath away with quick cuts. In your short story, the sentence length takes over this function.
Are you curious how I personally approach the subject of exciting short stories ? Then take a look at my book Murderous Neighborhood ! 30 fast-paced mini-shows show you which stylistic devices and techniques I like to use.
The shorter, scarcer and more precise your sentences are, the faster your narrative tempo will be. With a simple and clear language that you pack in short sentences, you too can take your reader’s breath away. Try it!
Exciting writing – Webinar from the Schreibcafé Wien
If you want to deepen the topic of exciting writing , take a look at the free webinar recording from our Viennese writing café. It deepens the topic and at the same time shows you how you can translate it into a novel in addition to the short story.
You want to dive deeper into the matter? In the Schreibcamp-Mediathek you can find more webinars about exciting writing . From just € 16.50 per month you are a member of the RINDLERWAHN camp and have full access to all webinars, including full membership in the RINDLERWAHN author forum .