Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Writing Short Stories

Writing short stories does not have to be something that you do for a payment in the end. In fact, of the thousands of writers in the world, very few of them actually earn a living from their writing. Instead they are likely to toil along writing about the topics that interest them without any expectation that they will get rich in the process.

If writing has ever appealed to you, then you should give it a shot. It is one of the few hobbies that you can pursue that does not require a financial investment on your part. Instead you need only a pen and paper (or a word processing program). Many writers will tell you that they have a favorite type of pen or that they do their writing only in a certain journal. That is the case for many of them, but even with those pieces of equipment, you are talking a few bucks for a new hobby.

When you begin working on your short stories, you will want to begin by finding a time and space when you can write. Much of writing is about feeling. Particularly when you are writing fiction, you will find that how you feel about a certain aspect of writing and your atmosphere really affects the way that you write the story.

Once you sit down to write, you will find that you can go about it in a number of ways. Some people simply begin writing. Those writers, who are called pantsies in the writing world, figuratively write by the seat of their pants. They do not have a plan. They just go with what is in their heads. These writers often consider themselves artists and artists only, and for many of them, writing an outline will take away the story that has formed in their minds.

Other writers have a roadmap. Some start with only a plot line of the basic points. They may know the beginning conflict, the escalation point, and the resolution, but they do not necessarily know how they will get from one point to the next until they begin writing. Other writers do more than that. They begin by sitting down with pen and paper and coming up with a full plot sketch. They even write backgrounds for the characters that will not be in the final product. These writers write their stories from their outlines.

When you are a beginning short story writer, you should try out both ideas. See which one works well for you. You may find, as I have, that different stories require a different level of planning. Sometimes I am sitting somewhere, and a story will come to be. It is so vivid that I believe it must be true and that I must be the one to write it down. I can sit and write and write that story until I am done. Other times I have only a vague notion of what a story will be and then it works best to write down some of it in outline form first.

You should do whatever works for you when writing short stories. One of the things that I have learned since I began writing is that every writer has a technique. All of them have their own way of doing things. While it may be instructive to listen to others for their ideas, it is not necessary to take their advice as if it will work for everyone. Too much of writing is about feeling to do that.

You can share your short stories with other people in a number of ways. You can try selling them if you are interested in the marketing aspect. You can also write them for other people or put together your own book of stories. You can have them bound and give them to your family members as gifts. You can write a short story and bind it about an event in a life close to you, or you can keep your writing to yourself. There are things I have written that no one will ever read, and I value them for the personal satisfaction they fill for me. Many writers feel the same.

By Julia Mercer

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