Short Story

Creating your own story . . .
From Reading to Writing Stories such as
“The Masque of the Red Death” may horrify you,
while other stories delight you with humor,
suspense, or surprises. You not only have the
opportunity to read the stories of others, but you
can also create stories of your own that will
affect others.
Creating your own story . . .
A short story uses characters, action, and
setting to explore a conflict and create an
experience that engages readers. Like all
literary works worth reading, short stories
entertain us and touch our feelings. At the same
time, they teach us something worth
Basics in a Box
Short Story at a Glance
Sets the
stage by
• introducing
the characters
• describing
the setting
Develops the plot by
• introducing the conflict
• telling a sequence of
• developing main
• building toward a climax
Finishes the
story by
• resolving the
• telling the
last event
RUBRIC Standards for Writing
A successful short story should
• use the elements of character,
setting, and plot to create a
convincing world
• use techniques such as vivid
sensory language, concrete details,
and dialogue to create believable
characters and setting
• develop and resolve a central
• present a clear sequence of events
• maintain a consistent point of view
Writing Your Short Story
To imagine yourself inside another
person . . . is what a story writer does in
every piece of work. . . .
Eudora Welty
Writing Your Short Story
Look for ideas for your story by
 Listing interesting settings, characters,
and conflicts. Mix and match them, or
ask yourself what story each might
 Remembering your daydreams.
 Contemplating recent news stories.
 Recalling experiences from your life.
Planning Your Short Story
1. Imagine the characters and setting. Who
will be in the story and how will you show
their personality traits? What setting will you
2. Think through the plot. What are the main
events? What is the conflict? Will the conflict
be resolved? If so, how? You might make a
sequence chart to help you organize your
event 1
event 2
event 3
final event/
Planning Your Short Story
3. Choose a narrator. Who will tell your story?
Will the story be told from the first-person or
third-person point of view?
4. Create a mood. Will your story be
frightening, humorous, or mysterious?
5. Identify your goals and audience. Are you
writing for children, your peers, or a general
Writing Your Short Story
2 Drafting
Begin your story wherever you like—at the
beginning, the conclusion, or the incident
that triggers the conflict. Many good stories
begin in the middle and then go back to the
beginning to provide more information.
Remember, however, that the order of
events must be clear.
Writing Your Short Story
2 Drafting
Flesh Out the Characters
To make your characters real, use
 description
 dialogue
 action
Writing Your Short Story
2 Drafting
Use Description to Show Rather Than Tell
Your Story
For instance, instead of telling the readers
that Seth and Caleb disappeared, the writer
uses description to show them disappearing:
“A ray of light fell onto them. As if they were
floating on the beam, they slowly faded
Writing Your Short Story
2 Drafting
Organize the Events
A natural way to organize events in a story
is to use chronological order—the order
in which events occur. Another choice is to
use flashback—a recalling of past events.
After the flashback, return to the present
and continue telling the story. Just be sure
that the sequence of events and the
connections between ideas are clear.
Writing Your Short Story
3 Revising
Dialogue can add suspense to your story and
help readers get to know your characters.
Good dialogue shows the most important
things characters say to each other.
Writing Your Short Story
4 Editing and Proofreading
In writing dialogue, remember to start a new
paragraph each time the speaker changes.
Also, use single quotation marks to indicate a
quote within a quote.