How to Write a Good Short Story

If you feel a story in your thought or the need to narrate events with details others often omit, you are a storyteller. However, how you tell the story will determine if others find it fun or boring, just the right length, too short, or too long, or even decide whether the audience is wrong or right. This article, therefore, is designed to highlight some things that can help you tell a good short story.

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Why storytelling?

Since the dawn of time, humans have used storytelling as a means to pass information, share experiences, foster a deep connection with others, and communicate feelings. Stories are the most natural ways to stimulate our minds to process information and enhance decision-making process. 

In ancient times, before we started documenting events in writing, oral storytelling was how history and culture were handed down to the younger generation. Moonlight stories were commonplace, and children and elders alike looked forward to the evening when they would gather for the traditional storytelling sessions.

Studies show that when we connect to a story emotionally, our brain releases oxytocin – a neurochemical that helps us feel more connected. 

Connectedness is one of the main aims of storytellers; they wish to connect to their audience, and the audience wants a storyline that resonates with them. Can you think of the stories you have enjoyed? Think of the reason why you loved those stories. You will find somewhere that something got you ‘hooked’.

So as a storyteller, how can you get your audience to resonate with your stories? 

This article highlights aspects of storytelling that will enable you to write engaging short stories.


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How to write a good short story - key points


How to Write a Good Short Story

1. Have a strong opening: The opening sentence of your short story is crucial because it sets the tone for the rest of the story. Start strong to grab the reader’s attention and keep them glued to the pages. An intriguing, suspenseful, or thought-provoking sentence is a good strategy here.

2. Have a clear plot: Your story should have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Plan your plot carefully. Ensure that the plot is easy to follow and that the conflict and resolution are clear for the readers. A clear plot boosts engagement. 

3. Develop your characters: It is paramount to create characters that readers can relate to. Create characters that stimulate the readers’ fancy enough to make them care about her; make this your target. Give your characters some personality traits, and show things that motivate them to act the way they do. Give each character a backstory. 

4. Use sensory details: Sensory details make readers visualize your story. Hence, use sensory details to make your story more engaging. Add descriptive language to show the story setting, characters, and events. Aim to ‘show’ and allow the readers to imagine.

5. Keep it simple: Short stories are meant to be succinct. Don’t overwhelm your readers with many complicated plotlines or characters. You should focus on just one main plotline and a few well-developed characters. This way, the readers can follow the story more easily.

6. Edit and revise: Once you’ve written your story, go back and review it to make sure it flows well and that there are no errors. Revise it over and over again until you are confident you have got it as clear and concise as it can be. You may also want to have someone else read it and give you feedback.

7. Read other short stories: Reading short stories written by other writers can help you understand what works and what doesn’t in the genre. It can also inspire you to come up with new ideas and techniques for your own writing.

Happy writing!


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