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The Five Basic Elements Of A Short Story

Updated on December 15, 2013

First Things First

Listen, you are all writers. You don’t need me to tell you how to write a short story. I understand that. Most of you have been writing since you were knee-high to a tall elf, so I’m sure you know all about this information I’m about to present.

If, however, you somehow missed Writing 101 in school, or if you were like me and chose that class period to daydream about Mary Louise Armstrong, then perhaps you’ll find this helpful.

So let’s proceed as though you don’t know all of this information. The obvious place to start, then, is with a definition of a short story. A short story is a work of fiction that is length-challenged. J Now there are those who will tell you that a short story does not have to be fiction, and that’s all well and good, but we’ll let them write their own article about that topic. For the purposes of this article we will only be talking about fiction.

The average length of a short story is between 2,000 and 5,000 words, although many have exceeded that and even approached 20,000 words in length. Seriously, folks, who cares? If you are entering a short story contest, the length required will be listed for you in the submission guidelines. If you are just writing for yourself, then call it a short story, call it a flash fiction, call it a novella or call it whatever the heck you want to call it.

What we will concern ourselves with in this article are the five key elements that a short story should contain according to Bill Holland’s Writing 101. Of course, rules were made to be broken, so take what you want of this article and leave the rest for someone else. I’m just an old teacher passing along what I have learned over the years. None of this is etched in stone, and writers should always feel free to venture forth into unchartered territory.

These, then, are the five key elements of short story writing.

Who are the main characters in your story? Try to limit the story to two.
Who are the main characters in your story? Try to limit the story to two. | Source

CHARACTER

The character is the person who takes part in the action of your story. Considering the length restrictions of a short story, you should probably limit yourself to no more than two characters. The reason for this is that you want your readers to get a sense of who your characters are, and defining the characters takes some time.

Think about it for a moment. To describe a character we need to describe the physical characteristics, right? But we also need to find a way to describe how that person feels, what they think and perhaps even some events from the past that have shaped that character. That is a tall order in a short story, so trying to do it for more than two characters is much more than a tall order; it ventures into the Mission Impossible realm.

SETTING

Setting is defined as the time and place in which your story happens. This can entail a description of the scenery, city, landscape and even the weather. When describing setting, it is always useful to remember your five senses. You want your readers to see the setting, smell the setting, hear the setting, feel the setting and taste the setting if at all possible.

What limitations do we have in describing setting? Again, the number of words is limiting for sure, so trying to write a short story that takes place in two or more locations is really a very difficult thing to do. You cannot adequately describe five, six or seven settings in a short story and do them justice. If at all possible, stay in one place and save your words to describe other aspects of your story.

What is the setting in your story?
What is the setting in your story? | Source
What is your theme?  Helping mankind would be one such message
What is your theme? Helping mankind would be one such message | Source

PLOT

The plot consists of events and actions that relate to the central conflict of the story. With regards to this article, this is a bit like putting the cart before the proverbial horse, because we describe conflict below. Still, because of my contrary nature, let’s briefly touch on plot now.

How is the story going to play out? How are you going to take your central theme and build a story around it? Man meets girl. Girl dies. Girl comes back from the dead to help man deal with the loss. Man recovers. There is your plot, built around the central theme of the everlasting power of love.

Remember that a short story, with emphasis on short, does not allow too elaborate of a plot. Here is where writers of novels have such a huge advantage. In a novel, the plot and subplots can cover, literally, hundreds of pages. The short story writer does not have that luxury. He/she must pare it down to bare-bones storytelling and believe me, that is not nearly as easy as it may sound.

CONFLICT

What is the struggle that is happening in your story? Is there a struggle between characters? Is there a struggle between a character and a thing? Is there a struggle between a character and a former event in his/her life? Is there an internal struggle being waged within the main character?

For an effective and highly-entertaining short story, the struggle (conflict) must be great, but not so great as to seem totally unrealistic….unless, of course, you are writing a fantasy or sci fi, and then all bets are off concerning realism.

THEME

And finally we come to the theme, which is the main idea or belief in the short story. Think in terms of good vs. evil if you will, or the conquest of bravery over cowardice, or the eternal human struggle of just getting through a day true to yourself. All good short stories deliver a message within them. The theme is the heart of the story. It is constantly in the background beating, beating, and beating some more.

If written correctly, the theme of your short story should be apparent without ever having to tell the reader what it was.

So There You Have It

No sweat, right? Well, as a matter of fact, to deliver all five of these elements in a spellbinding short story really is quite difficult.

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard a writer say that the idea of writing a novel is too daunting to them. They don’t think they could ever accomplish such a feat. Quite frankly I feel the same way about writing a “great” short story. Notice, please, that I added the word “great” in that statement. Writing a short story of 2,000 words is pretty easy. Writing a great short story that has all five of these elements in it is nowhere near easy. In fact, I find it to be much harder than writing a novel.

So where do you start? That is the decision each writer must make. Some writers begin with a theme, then construct a conflict and then build the plot around that conflict. Others begin with a theme, then they relay that theme to their main characters and allow the characters to tell the story. Still others have a basic plot in mind and shape that plot so that it translates a theme. Which approach is best? Only you can answer that question. You are, after all, the writer. You are the one who will breathe life into your short story. You are the one who will give it your own personal signature. You don’t need me to tell you how to do it. As Nike says, just do it!

2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

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    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 3 years ago from New York, New York

      Great advice from start to finish here in writing a short story. I especially loved your message at the end and no one can ever say you don't know your stuff as far as writing goes, my friend! Thanks again though for sharing with us and wishing you a great Monday now.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Happy Monday to you Janine. Let's hope we both have a wonderful week. Thank you as always.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 3 years ago from New York

      Where do you start? At Billybuc's hub page. Then, you read his hubs, this being a perfect example. We can only hope Bill Holland’s Writing 101 is a non-ending class as the information is more invaluable than we can describe.

      I have to admit too Bill, Stephen King is my favorite writer and his informational videos on the "tricks" of writing should be watched by every writer. I will especially remember him saying "that the novel is a quagmire that a lot of younger writers stumble into". Now, I know I'm not a younger writer in the sense of age, but I'll still value this advice.

      Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 3 years ago from Taos, NM

      Another inspiring writing article to help writers with short stories. I agree with what you have written here and you have done such a great job with it.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mary, it's funny...I have read King but he has never been one of my favorites....until I started watching his videos....the guy knows what he is talking about for sure. Now I can't get enough of him. :) Anyway, have a great week and thank you.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Suzette....I appreciate greatly you always being here.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      LOL had to laugh at knee-high to a tall elf. I'd never heard this one before. I think I like it far better than knee-high to a grasshopper.

      Great tips as always Bill!

      Writing a novel scares me but is on my bucket list. I have written many short stories and a novella.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Great stuff. Telling the story short is important in life. But since college I always called short stories, "long thoughts".

    • bizarrett81 profile image

      bizarrett81 3 years ago from Maine

      Great hub, and loved the Stephen King video. I have an incredibly worn out and dog eared copy of "On Writing", that I read over and over for inspiration and of course, the lessons! I'm in the process of brainstorming a short story to submit to an anthology, I'll be sure to bookmark this page = ) Thanks Bill for all your wisdom !

    • Made profile image

      Madeleine Salin 3 years ago from Finland

      These are some great tips. I have been, and still am, a daydreamer, but I must have learned something about writing short stories. I haven't written many short stories, but I'm sure I'll write some in the future. (I have one in Swedish that I competed with some months ago, but didn't win anything. I'm going to translate it to English when I have the time for it.) Thank you for educating us again, Bill. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Susan. I made that one up and chuckled myself. LOL When the time comes you will write that novel and not a moment before. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I like that, Eric....have a very long thought today my friend and thank you.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Liz, thank you! I have read that wonderful book and it is a treasure chest of information. Good luck with that short story.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Made, you are very welcome my friend. Thank you for taking the time to visit me and Happy Holidays to you and your family.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Bill do you mind if I borrow that? "knee-high to a tall elf." Love it!

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Some great tips bill and I have never written any short stories besides my children ones I don't believe, I will have to try one! I do have a novel tucked back unfinished somewhere I am just dying to work on and I bet it has been a year since I have even looked at it! Maybe short stories are the answer, lol. I kind of hate there must always be a conflict, but it is true, boring without one, guess that is life! ^+

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Oh no, Susan. That is a high form of complement. Please do.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jackie, I understand....but most lives are filled with conflicts if we think about it. :) I hope you work on that novel some day soon.....just for you.

    • ocfireflies profile image

      ocfireflies 3 years ago from North Carolina

      Bill,

      One can always learn even if she did not spend her 101 daydreaming about Mary Louise Armstrong. Smiles. Chances were I was looking out the window and wishing I was outside. Having made an attempt at the short story venue, I feel like I learned lots which hopefully will help me to improve next time around.

      Blessings also to the novelists,

      Kim

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Kim, Mary Louise was well-worth the daydreams. LOL

      Thank you for visiting me on this Monday. I hope you have a wonderful week.

      bill

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      Yes...need those five basic elements for sure! Thank you for your great insight as always dear Bill! You are keeping us on our toes. Love the photos. Peace and blessings, Faith Reaper

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      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Again, your timing is perfect. Over the weekend the first 2 paragraphs for the next chapter of The Gifts of Faith popped into my head. I was in bed, so I quickly got up and wrote them down. Today, I plan on working the chapter. I think Faith is probably going to turn into a novella. My folder in Word calls it a novel but I don't know (and won't know) if her story will become a novel, but it's become quite apparent it's not going to be a short story. Time and inspiration will tell. Regardless of the end result, I'm having fun with it.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      You're so right. Short-story writing is not easy. My downfall may be condensing the plot; but I love to read a good, short, true or true-to-life story. I admire the craft. Thanks again for another good lesson.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Good morning Faith! You are early today and I welcome you. I hope you have a wonderful week my friend, and thank you!

      blessings always

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      And that, Sha, is all that is important. I don't know if anyone will like my new novel, but I love it, so my first criteria has been met.

      Thanks dear friend; good luck with your writing today.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Dora, I admire the craft as well although I find it very difficult. I much prefer novel-writing. :) Thank you!

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 3 years ago

      Short stories are hard; even harder than novels or non-fiction in my opinion. You have to pack so much into such a small space, there's no room for waste. You don't have the luxury of page-long descriptions to set the scene or describe a character, you have to capture the essence of it in a couple of sentences. A good short story is so satisfying though, and can stay with you for so long. Wonderful hub, Billy; it makes me want to dig out some old, abandoned short stories and give them a fresh draft.

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      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

      As always, easy-reading style is what you do! This is so useful to anyone who writes, beginners or veterans, because it sets out the whole kaboosh (is that how you spell that?!).

      I love the discipline of a short story. For me, thinking about writing a novel is like trying to plan a route in the desert - where do I go so that I don't wander round and round in circles?!

      That's not to say a short story (a great one) is easy, as you say.

      Happy Monday eve to you! Ann

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Wiccan, I agree with you. I much prefer writing novels for the reasons you give...and perhaps that means I need to work a little harder on my short story skills. :) Thank you for the visit.

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ann, kaboosh works fine and that is how you spell it. :) Wandering around in the desert is a perfect analogy at times when writing a novel....I was at that point last week on mine...happily someone came along on a camel and pointed the right direction out for me. :)

      Thank you Ann; have a splendid Monday.

      bill

    • profile image

      DJ Anderson 3 years ago

      Well, you've got this old mind stirred up, trying to remember writing

      any fictional writing since leaving high school. Sure, I helped my son

      to write some fiction when he was in school.

      But, I looked back at my folder of writings and found that most everything is non-fiction with the exception of a few poems (songs).

      However, my first 'brilliant novel' is a historically based fictional novel.

      Either I am maniacally over confident, or trained by the best. I prefer

      to think, the second.

      Super article, Bill!

      DJ.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      Good review of the elements, and the video from Stephen King was an excellent add.

    • DrBill-WmL-Smith profile image

      William Leverne Smith 3 years ago from Hollister, MO

      I certainly do need the reminder. Thank you! I must have been day-dreaming about Nancy (wife of 54 years and counting) - I tend to forget the "theme" aspect, most often. Thanks, again! ;-)

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      I must have read just about every book the spooky Mr Steven King have penned, but I remember buying a book of his short stories a long time ago, looking back they were all great stories but I was disappointed, if I'm really honest, I felted cheated. However I've read some terrific short stories or flash fiction here on HP recently and throughly enjoyed them. Another useful well needed resource. Well done my friend.

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      I remember when one of my son started to write, he had ambitious plans to write I don't remember how many hundreds of pages (he was a young adolescent at the time). I told him that it was OK to start small if he wanted. Finally now he realizes that it's OK to start small because the important thing is to write if you love to write.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      DJ, I prefer to think the second as well. LOL Thank you...my writings are fiction with strong undercurrents of autobiographical tossed in for good measure....I never am really sure where the truth ends and the fiction begins. Perhaps I need a therapist. ;)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Flourish...I, too, loved the video.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      DrBill, welcome back...54 years? I'd say you are doing something right. :) Thank you my friend and best wishes to you and your wife.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jo, that's interesting. I have no read any short stories by King; perhaps that simply is not his strength. That certainly is true for a lot of writers. Short stories are difficult....I know that from personal experience. :) Thank you as always and blessings to you this holiday season.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Joelle, you said it perfectly and I have nothing to add...write if you love to write. Thank you for that.

    • NiaLee profile image

      NiaLee 3 years ago from BIG APPLE

      Billybuc, one more time you teach and share something. Thank you. It is very important because in our inspiration we sometimes forget to write down and define some essentials. I, at least, do!

      I keep a bookmark on your hub for my next work.

      Thank you, love and peace to you and all.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image

      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      This is very useful and interesting. I tend to over think things a lot. I like how you suggest to pair down the characters to two. I always find a way to sneak more in and then have to backtrack and explain what is in my head. LOL

    • Learn Things Web profile image

      Learn Things Web 3 years ago from California

      I don't write short stories but I found this very interesting. It's always fascinating to think about what goes into putting a good story together. My 8 year old loves to write stories and she's come up with some really good ones since she's a very avid reader. She uses what she reads as inspiration to create her own stories. I'm bookmarking this to give her some ideas on how to structure her stories because she's trying to improve her storytelling skills.

    • profile image

      sheilamyers 3 years ago

      Wonderful advice! I actually find it easier to write a novel, but perhaps that's because I get so long-winded telling even the simplest of stories. LOL!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      NiaLee, thank you for your kind words. I'm very happy that this helped you.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Brandi, you speak for most of us. Short stories are very difficult to do well. It's all part of the learning process my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Learn....I love the approach your 8 year old takes...using the work of others for inspiration. I would say she is well on her way to being a writer. :) Thank you for the visit.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sheila, you and me both. I think novels are much easier to write. I don't like having chains on and that's what a short story feels like to me.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hmmm, a short story. Maybe someday. There are so many aspects to writing; novels, short stories, magazine articles, poems, how to articles, fiction, non-fiction, travel, etc.... I must have been one of those daydreaming during writing 101. You clearly have this all under control. Great job Bill, have a great week.

    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 3 years ago from Iowa

      I haven't written a short story in years. Keep saying I am going to do it. Maybe I should make it one of my New Year's resolutions for 2014! Thanks, as always, for the inspiration.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Deb, I hope you do...whatever you decide to do I know you will do it well. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Bill, my head is exploding with stuff I have learned over the years. I need to get it out and share it while I'm still able to put an intelligent sentence together. LOL Thank you!

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      And we thank you for doing that. You are helping all of us when you share your knowledge.

    • brakel2 profile image

      Audrey Selig 3 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      You amaze me Bill. I know you don't outline but come up with the article so concise and filled with all the points that must be covered. I took an online course from a popular romance novelist who covered all your points. I think you may have come out better. Thanks for sharing. Blessings. Audrey. Sharing this masterpiece.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It really is my pleasure, Bill, but thank you!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 3 years ago from Southern Illinois

      This is really helpful. Thank you. I have just recently started to write short stories and i love it. I watched S. King's video, he mentioned ' Misery ' I love that movie. My grandson gave it to me as a Christmas gift years ago and i watch it at least once a year. I will remember the five basic elements of a short story. You are a great teacher! Thank's again....

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Audry, what a lovely thing for you to say. Thank you so much. I have what can only be described as a very organized brain; otherwise I would not be able to get away with this without outlining. I truly appreciate your kind words.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Ruby and I wish you good luck with those short stories. I know you will do fine my friend.

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      Mary 3 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      Good point with limiting characters to two Bill, then you can focus and develop them well..all the best for this delightful season..Cheers

    • shahkar-khan profile image

      shahkar-khan 3 years ago

      it shows why you are the king here on HP. lol.

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Bill- Very interesting and clever lead in, designed not to offend and to encourage readers to continue. "So let's proceed as if you don't know all this information." I am impressed. That was well done.

      And I liked the breakdown of your hub. You explained each element clearly. Very interesting, even to me and I am 110% sure that I will never write a short story or a novel. My interests and my abilities lie elsewhere, and I am quite content. But great stuff. Blessings. Theresa

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Awesome write here these are easy to follow and an informative hub on this topic. The elements are explained to perfection.

    • Nadine May profile image

      Nadine May 3 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Wow great hub as always. Around 1995 - 2000 I have created short stories about the characters that play a role in my novels. I will see if I can find them in the archive of my computer and work on them. You have as usual inspired me. Many thanks.

    • Anna Haven profile image

      Anna Haven 3 years ago from Scotland

      Great advice as always. You explain it clearly and make it approachable.

      I write short stories from freewrites and it is usually my characters I develop first.

      Thank you for sharing your knowledge. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Carter...happy holidays to you and yours.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      shahkar-khan, thank you so much....just one of the group my friend, and grateful for it.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Theresa....coming from a teacher I am grateful for your kind words. Clever I can do....LOL...a short story is much harder.

      blessings always

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you so much, DDE; you are always so encouraging.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Nadine, I love that you created short stories about your characters. Well done my friend, and thank you.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Anna, you and I are alike that way. I develop characters and then let them tell the story. Thank you for being here once again.

    • vkwok profile image

      Victor W. Kwok 3 years ago from Hawaii

      Awesome hub with awesome advice! Thanks, Bill!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 3 years ago from United States

      This is a great overview of the important elements of writing a short story. I think this hub is extremely helpful for all of us, even if we write short stories as a review always give you things to think about.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Always a pleasure, vkwok...thank you for your loyalty.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Pamela. I think so too; we can all use a refresher course from time to time.

    • agusfanani profile image

      agusfanani 3 years ago from Indonesia

      What effective tips for writing a short story. I bookmark this so that I'll always have the guidance how to write a good short story.

    • Coffeeatdawn profile image

      MB 3 years ago from Philippines

      This is very useful, Billy. I will keep this in mind. I have learned so much from you.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you agusfanani; I am very happy that you find this useful.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Coffee, I am very grateful and happy that this has helped you. Thank you!

    • Jeannieinabottle profile image

      Jeannie InABottle 3 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      Very good advice on writing a short story. I have not written a short story in so long, it helps to read a hub about it. Thanks for the info!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You are very welcome, Jeannie. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      I happen to love Bill Holland’s Writing 101, and learn something new and refreshing with each and every hub. This one is no exception. I also liked the videos…especially Stephen King, who I think must have been born with story writing (short form or novel) hardwired into his DNA. Not many realize that he began with writing short stories, and this was his comfort zone for some time. He once said something that I could relate to, and that you alluded to as well. Sometimes, I will throw my characters into a specific situation or theme, initially, and then watch/observe where they take the story. It is really fascinating to “watch” what unfolds. Excellent hub, as always, Billy. :-)

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      இڿڰۣ-- кιмвєяℓєу 3 years ago from Niagara Region, Canada

      I was definitely one of the one's that was daydreaming during class or thought there was somewhere else I needed to be at that time. I wish I was more organized, if that's the right word, with my writing as I tend to just sit and write without a plan and see where my characters take me. It is a process to structure a story, one that is learned, and I will definitely keep your tips close by. Thanks, Bill.

      Happy Holidays,

      Kim

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Genna, it really is fascinating the process that takes place when a character actually writes the book. I'm experiencing that now and it is a joy. It is almost magical and I hope that every writer is able to experience it once during their career.

      Thank you for the kind words; you are greatly appreciated.

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      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Kim, I think that process forms over time. When I first started writing I was all over the place....no organization at all. Now I can form a framework and then turn the story over to my characters to write. Best wishes to you and thank you for stopping by. Happy Holidays to you as well.

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      drbj and sherry 3 years ago from south Florida

      And if writers do not include conflict in their novels, Bill, I can positively guarantee there will be PLENTY of it in their attempts to market their books.

      Thanks for this 5-element refresher course.

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      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      LOL...drbj, you never fail to give me a laugh. I have read some horrid novels. Makes me wonder whether I am messed up or the publisher is. :)

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      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I have taken months to formulate a short in my head, and watch it play out. When it is just right, is when I do the easy part. To me, the writing is the simplest of it all, but I must have it finished in my head first. I literally "watch" it happen.

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      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Deb, I love that description and you are absolutely right. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and Merry Christmas.

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      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      I remember hearing my fourth grade teacher reciting these steps as we began to write. It always is a great refresher to hear them, especially as one begins a writing career.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Dianna, that's one reason I write these, to remind myself of the basics. :) Glad to hear you find it helpful. Thank you for being here as always.

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      Glimmer Twin Fan 3 years ago

      My daughter is starting to write short stories in school and she struggles with it. This will be a good reference for her that isn't over her head or too simple. Sometimes the school handouts are a little too simple and she writes 1 paragraph and thinks she's done. This is a really useful hub for people. Now if I ever get around to writing a short story I'll use it too. Thanks!

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      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Glimmer, I hope this helps your daughter. If she shows a love for writing have her send one of her stories to me and I'll give her a gentle appraisal of it. I love encouraging kids to write and hey, I was a teacher so I might know what I'm doing when I help her.

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      Mary Hyatt 2 years ago from Florida

      I used to write short stories for my children and grandchildren. They have kept my stories in a binder, and that makes me happy.

      I'm glad I found this Hub today because I'm going to publish one of my stories here in the near future.

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      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mary, I think that is fantastic. What a wonderful legacy to leave for your kids. Thank you for that....just a wonderful idea.

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