“If the boy and girl walk off into the sunset hand-in-hand in the last scene, it adds 10 million to the box office.”
And it’s lame.
I get so tired of happy endings; they disgust me.
That’s why I love short stories. And not only reading them, but writing them too.
Edgar Allen Poe was the absolute master of short stories. When I write them, I always keep ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ in the back of my mind. It is one of the creepiest stories in the history of writing.
Which brings me to my first point.
1. Set the mood
I’m in the process of compiling and editing some short stories I’ve written and one thing ties them together: mood. One of them is suspenseful. One is scary. One is ridiculous and funny. But they all have a set mood. Your story may not have a strong plot, but that’s ok. Because it’s about the mood
2. Use your characters
Short stories are not long. Thus the short. I’m a genius (lol). But you don’t have the room to play with prose (like in a novel). So use your characters to drive the story and ultimately the mood. Dialogue is a good way to drive comedy. Monologue fear.
3. Don’t worry about word count
A short story is pretty much defined as under 7500 words. That’s a lot of words. When you get over that many words you have gone on your way to a novella. Don’t write a novella. Write a SHORT story. It doesn’t have to be long. Remember: it’s about the mood. Moods come and go. You don’t get in moods for days or weeks. You get in moods for short periods of time. So make the story short. I shoot for around 2000 words. Just enough to get something going then yank it away. Because it’s about the mood.
Don’t put the idea of short stories away. You have to write everyday. Right? How many days have you sat in front of Scrivener and not been able to work on your novel? If you’re like me, a lot. So write a short story instead. Who knows? Maybe you’ll write enough to compile an anthology. That’s what I’m working on.
Tell me about your short stories.
My cousin Jeff shared some of his ideas with me at our family reunion and I loved them. What are your ideas? I promise I won’t steal them.