How Do You Write a Short Story?

Write a short story by beginning with a memorable first paragraph, developing characters beyond their on-page appearances, setting up a plot, creating tension and conflict, and building to an exciting climax and resolution. Determine the story's point of view before beginning, as it dramatically affects how you develop the story.

Write a compelling first paragraph to get the reader's attention and make him invested in the rest of the story. The first paragraph should focus on action, unusual events or conflict to make it stand out. Conflict also helps to develop the story even as it commands the reader's attention.

Develop your characters far beyond what is shown on page. For example, your story may never mention a character's upbringing or his religion, but knowing these details helps you write that character more convincingly.

Create an outline for the plot. At minimum, this outline includes the situations of the story, the turning points of the narrative, and what characters do at the end of the story. Build tension and conflict into the plot by pitting characters against one another, against nature (or the supernatural), against society as a whole, against themselves, or against technology.

Build to a climax. This is the main turning point of the story and is both exciting and dramatic. The climax is followed by a resolution. The resolution may come through dialogue or symbolic imagery and may be explicitly spelled out for the reader or left to interpretation.