pen featured

Tips for writing short stories (we want yours!)

Hey Radford! So this year the good folks at Whim want to start publishing YOUR short stories in the Arts & Entertainment section. Not only is being published in an online magazine a great way to get your work out there, but writing for Whim is a terrific thing to put on future resumes. Do you want to write a short story, but you’re not sure how to get started? Here are some tips to get your minds on a roll:

1) Pick a subject that isn’t extensive

Short stories are mostly hard to write because people pick novel ideas and try to condense them into a short story. Trust me, I’m very guilty of having done this. To combat this common problem, simply pick one moment, one scene, or one idea to write about. Make sure your idea has plenty of action right off the bat, since you don’t have the time as you would in a novel to build up to climaxes.

2) Use your own memories

Of course, you could always write a personal essay based on one pivotal moment in your life, or you could lend that memory to a character. This is a great way to get writing because you’ve lived through the experience so you can already describe the sights, sounds, smells, and feelings. Turning reality into fiction opens the door for you to doctor that memory to be anything you want it to be and then apply it to your fictional character’s life. Once you have that one great idea, the rest will come naturally.

pen and paper
Photo by: Danielle Johnson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3) Work in a quiet space.

If you live in the dorms, I’d suggest going to Young Hall in the evening. Young Hall gets really quiet as the day wears on and it has everything you could possibly need- cozy nooks and chairs, numerous charging outlets, a computer lab with a printer, and vending machines. Young Hall is the whole package for those who want to get work done. Young Hall works well, but if you need a change of scenery the river is also a great place to go to be alone with your thoughts and characters. If you live in Greenhill especially, you should take advantage of the river.

4) Use a pen and paper.

If you’re drawing a blank while watching the cursor blink on Microsoft Word, shut down your computer and whip out your trusty notebook and pen. Sometimes just jotting down your thoughts instead of typing them makes all the difference in the world.

5) Write in the first person.

I’ve noticed that a lot of people like writing in the third person. While there’s nothing wrong with that, sometimes it’s easier to get into your character by writing in the first person. If you’re really set on having your story take place in the third person, but you’re not able to get anything down on paper, write scenes in first person from each character’s perspective. This simple exercise will really get you into your characters’ shoes and will definitely make writing your story easier.

If you’re interested in submitting a story, shoot me an e-mail (mgibbons3@radford.edu). I’m also more than willing to read your work and offer suggestions before you formally submit your work, if you’re unsure of anything.