Tips for Writing a Short Story Narrative Writing Skills

Tips for Writing a Short Story
Narrative Writing Skills
The Basics of a Short Story
•Introduces the
the conflict
•Develops main
•Tells the
last event
•Tells a
sequence of
the setting
•Builds towards
A Successful Short Story
• Use the elements of character,
setting, and plot to develop
the storyline
• Use vivid language, concrete
details, and dialogue
• Develop and resolve a central
• Present a clear and logical
sequence of events
Before you Write: Things to
Think About
• Characters: Who is the main
character? Who is the narrator?
• Setting: What is the setting?
How will this affect the plot?
• Mood: Is your story funny, sad,
• Organization: What happens
first, second, last?
• Plot: What is the problem? Why
did it occur? What will solve it?
The First Step: A Catchy Hook
• Just like a traditional essay starts
with an attention grabber, your
short story should start with a
“hook” that engages your reader.
• There are many different ways to
“hook” your reader. Let’s look at a
few ways with the handout “Little
Red Riding Hooks”.
• Now you try. Use one of the
techniques we just discussed and
write a catchy hook for your story.
The Second Step: Developing
Your Conflict
• Your “body paragraphs”
should continue to
develop the characters
you introduced in the
beginning, and develop
the central conflict.
• Separate your events
clearly into paragraphs
(most likely in
chronological order)
The Final Step: Resolution
• After you have developed
your plot and characters,
had your story reach a
climax of events, and
resolved major conflicts,
you need a resolution
• Make sure to resolve any
conflicts, and don’t leave
your reader asking “Then
Writing Tips: DO….
• Use vivid language. Don’t just
tell the reader how angry your
character is, show them by
his/her thoughts and actions.
• Use dialogue. Let the
character’s words fit their
personality. This is one of the
few times when slang is ok.
• Use description. Pay attention
to the details you use to show
the reader what is happening.
• Use interesting adjectives &
lively verbs
Writing Tips: DON’T…
• Change point of view in
the middle of the story.
Whether you write in firstperson or third person, stay
• Be too wordy. Write clearly
and concisely, and
combine sentences to
avoid repetition.
• Use vocabulary you are
unfamiliar with.
A Final Note on Dialogue
• If you use dialogue in your
story, remember
– Use quotation marks
– Start a new paragraph each
time you have a new
Show vs. Tell Details
• When writing a story, you
always want to have for “show
details” vs. “tell details.”
• A “show detail” is a concrete
example or detail that shows
the reader what is happening,
vs. simply telling them.
• Use sensory details and specific
examples as well as good
Show vs. Tell Details
• “The man was distracted”
(Tell detail).
• “The man stumbled on the
bottom stair as he
frantically read the text
message he just received”
(Show detail).
Now you try!
• Write a short paragraph
where use strong “show”
details based on one of
the following sentences:
– The girl wore an interesting
– It was an unbelievable
– I took the stage.