- KISSA saying as old as the hills and twice as difficult to scale – especially for a die-hard pantser like me! – but the trusty ‘Keep It Simple Stupid’ is really critical here. You don’t have a lot of words to play around with, so make each one count. Dive into your story late, come out early. Yes, wrap everything up with a nice, tidy bow, but leave all the additional frills and sparkles behind.And no waffle. There’s no time for elaborate prose or a multitude of subplots, a variety of locations, and an army of supporting characters. There aren’t enough words for your story to span more than a limited period of time.So…One plot, one conflict and as few characters as possible. Don’t go overboard, otherwise 100,000+ words later you’ll have a saga, not a short story.
- Back to BasicsThink about the basic outline of a short story while applying the KISS theory. There are six distinct parts that you need to make sure you include:Introduction - where you introduce your story's setting, theme, characters and any other bits of information relevant to the plot, like time, weather, mood, etc.Initiating action – the event in your story that instigates the rising action.Rising action – events that bring your story to the climax or turning point.Climax – the major turning point of your story.Falling action – events that allow your story to move towards its conclusion.Resolution and conclusion – a satisfying ending where the central conflict is resolved and any questions raised during the body of your story are answered.Follow this basic plan and it’ll be near impossible to go wrong.
- Heart and SoulThere are many ways of describing the heart of your story. Some refer to it as the X-factor. A special quality. Something that will set your story apart from others. If you can find that unique something that will capture the attention and imagination of readers and publishers alike, you’ll have one hell of a story.
- Point of DifferenceExperiment with different points of view until you find one that is fresh and unique. You want a character who is central to your story – don’t make the mistake of choosing one who’s not – but one who is compelling, who perhaps views the world in a slightly different light to most. This will make for interesting and enthralling reading.
- It’s The Little ThingsA strong title will lead readers to your story. A catchy first line or hook will draw them in. And a gripping first few paragraphs will keep them reading. Continue building the tension, keep the plot solid and moving, then conclude with a bang. If those last few words stay with your reader long after they’ve turned the final page, they’ll be hanging out for your next wonderful story. And hopefully you’ll have won a fan for life.
- The StarsWho are the stars of your story? The leading characters that will capture the hearts of your readers. Make them shine. Make them sing. Make them do what they have to do, then give them the ending you have planned. Do this without fluff and feathers. You don’t have a lot of scope for character development, so make it brief and simple. Sure, you need a character arc, but – you know the term – KISS.