89 votes

How do I stop my characters falling in love?

Imagine her point of view, as a typical nurse. She has already met hundreds of patients over the course of her career who had inappropriate feelings for her. 99% of them held no temptation for her at ...
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  • 1,341
82 votes
Accepted

How to avoid turning dialogue into Q&A session?

OK. This will be like all the other things we are learning. You fill your tool box with every tool you can find, and use all of them. In this case you are collecting tools to make your dialog sound ...
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  • 23.5k
63 votes

How can I hint that my character isn't real?

I did this once in a novel-length story. After the first two appearences my wife said that she has a strange feeling with the side character, but couldn't tell why. In the end she was like 'I knew it!'...
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58 votes

Is it possible to write a short story in 500 words?

Easily. There are entire categories of "flash fiction" that are even shorter, even down to just six words (famous example allegedly by Hemingway: "For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn."). Common ...
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  • 919
38 votes

Is it possible to write a short story in 500 words?

In "150+ Short Two-Sentence Horror Stories To Freak You Out," Michael Koh compiled a list of two-sentence horror stories. He started of by saying that "horror stories don’t need to be ...
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34 votes

A torrent of foreign terms

A story like this is about what the MC experiences, and should be told in the MC's voice, but it's also important to consider your readers' experiences as they read, right? This seems like a case ...
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31 votes

How do I stop my characters falling in love?

The nurse is a nurturing character? Perhaps this reminds him of his mother or sister. This is a person with whom he can be physically and emotionally vulnerable, without any sexual connotations. ...
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  • 843
30 votes
Accepted

How can I avoid overusing "I" and "I'm" in a first person short story?

The way to stop overusing 'I' and 'I'm' is to examine the words following those terms. Usually, they are filter words -- thought, felt, heard, et cetera -- and are putting a kind of layer between your ...
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  • 7,915
20 votes
Accepted

Writing short stories in an original world setting

Short answer: You should write just as much as necessary, and nothing more. Short stories are supposed to be like that - short. Even if it's a fantasy setting, maybe a wildly elaborate one, you ...
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20 votes

How can I avoid overusing "I" and "I'm" in a first person short story?

Remember your first person POV is the narrator: When I am describing what is going on in third person, it wouldn't occur to address people about me as narrator. But in many ways, first person POV is ...
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  • 12.9k
19 votes
Accepted

What should tie a collection of short-stories together?

If you can make a good case, you could potentially group the short stories by whatever common thread you want, including author. You can also subgroup them. Some examples: Main point in common: ...
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19 votes

How can I hint that my character isn't real?

I would subtly manipulate the dialog so that your main can have scenes where the imaginary character and a real character are both talking and it seems like they are having the same conversation, but ...
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  • 10.9k
19 votes

My character surprised me with their behaviour while writing them, should I keep that behaviour or stick to how I had planned them?

Can It Serve A Purpose? I personally find that these little events in the story with character acting out of character are god-sends for writing. I get subtle sub-plots appearing and unexpected ...
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  • 12.9k
18 votes

Do Short Stories Need Definitive Endings?

I'm a big fan of ambiguous endings, when done well. The key is this: Your story doesn't have to tie up all loose ends, many, perhaps most short stories don't. But if you want people to be happy ...
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18 votes

How to avoid turning dialogue into Q&A session?

OK, I'm going to rephrase your question a little. Your problem is this: You have information to impart, which is (a) interesting and (b) important. However, the act of imparting that information is ...
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  • 28k
15 votes

How to replace overuse of "I" in a short story, fiction, written in the first person

A technical term for this is "filtering," meaning you're often reminding the reader what POV or filter rather than the context of the situation allowing the filter to be implicit and unwritten. Get ...
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14 votes

Dealing with inability to sustain interest in an idea

The advice is simple. Nail your butt to the couch and type. It won't always be fun, and your first draft will be very bad. If your expectation is to finish a beautiful story painlessly with a ...
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  • 23.5k
14 votes

How to avoid turning dialogue into Q&A session?

Dialogue becomes natural when it involves the characters. Get into their minds, have them need to ask and then ask in a way that that character would. The reply could be almost anything as it could ...
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  • 12.4k
13 votes

How do I stop my characters falling in love?

Imagine the Nurse is a lesbian. In WW2 and in the military she wouldn't be "out", but it isn't like lesbians did not exist back then. Her fiancé is a ruse; I know single lesbians that still ...
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  • 92.3k
13 votes

How can I change scene without changing chapter?

Typically in a novel you indicate a scene break within a chapter by centering "***" or "---" on a line by itself. (Without the quote marks, of course). In Harry Potter and the ...
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  • 92.3k
13 votes

My character surprised me with their behaviour while writing them, should I keep that behaviour or stick to how I had planned them?

As a Discovery Writer, I live for those moments, I absolutely want my characters to surprise me and act on their own. At the start of the story, all my characters are malformed lumps of clay; I have ...
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  • 92.3k
12 votes

How can I turn my short story into a novel?

While it's possible to expand a short story into a novel (c.f. Ender's Game), what seems more common in my experience (citation needed) is for the short story to become one part of a larger novel. ...
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12 votes
Accepted

Should a short story be submitted to a publisher in order to know if they would be interested in a book based on it?

Alas, no. As an unpublished writer, you absolutely should not submit anything less than a complete novel. A few quotes to this effect: You have to have a finished novel. There are no exceptions ...
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  • 28k
12 votes

Is it possible to write a short story in 500 words?

There also a very popular writing competition run by the BBC every year for young writers called "500 words". Some of the stories that have come out of that are very impressive, especially since the ...
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  • 221
11 votes

Main male character description

Smart, clever, insightful, thoughtful, reserved, and mysterious are all abstract qualities. They are summaries. And the summaries lack all of the juicy details that lead people to attribute those ...
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11 votes
Accepted

Can a scene be written to be disorienting and not be too confusing to readers?

If you want the scene to initially be confusing, go ahead! Since it's written in first person, that's just realistic. However, keep it brief. It would probably be rather annoying to try to read ...
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  • 226
11 votes

What sort of details do potential short story beta readers need?

I'd recommend against an overview. Short stories are short, and figuring out what they are and what they're doing is often a lot of the story's bulk. You want them coming in like a real reader would --...
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  • 28k
11 votes

How could the disregard for both plot and dialogue tell the story?

A knowledgeable Writing.SE user once said you could write fifty thousand times the word 'meow' and call it a novel. Such a piece of writing would hardly be considered an account of anything, even less ...
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  • 10.5k

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