Vintage writing advice from 1902. Articles on short-story plot, characterization, mood, style.

Owner: gsvaughan

Listed in: Literature

Language: English

Tags: writing, fiction, literature, editor, publishing

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Latest Blog Posts for Short Story Writing

  • Choosing a Good Title for Your Short Story
    on Dec 8, 2013 in Basic Elements Titles
    Too often the novice considers the title of his story a matter of no import. He looks upon it as a mere handle, the result of some happy afterthought, affixed to the completed story for convenience or reference, just as numbers are placed on the book...
  • An Example Short Story Skeleton Plot
    on Nov 27, 2013 in Plot
    Here is an good example of a starting outline for a plot (see Start With a Simple Skeleton Plot), for a story entitled "The Ambitious Guest":¶ 1.The scene is a tavern located at the Notch in the White Hills.The time, a September night.The place...
  • Start With a Simple Skeleton Plot
    on Jun 13, 2013 in Plot
    The plot of a short story should allow of expression in a single short, fairly simple sentence; if it cannot be so compressed there is something radically wrong with it. This may be called the "elemental" or "true" plot. It will be in general, perhap...
  • The Basics of Short Story Plots
    on Oct 6, 2012 in Plot
    The plot is the nucleus of the story, the bare thought or incident upon which the narrative is to be built. When a child says, "Grandma, tell me the story of how the whale swallowed Jonah," he gives the plot of the story that he desires; and the gran...
  • The "Dramatic" Short Story
    on Sep 18, 2012 in Types of Short Story
    The Dramatic Story is the highest type of the short story. It requires a definite but simple plot, which enables the characters to act out their parts. In its perfect form it is the "bit of real life" which it is the aim of the short story to present...
  • The Humorous Short Story
    on Feb 17, 2010 in Types of Short Story
    This almost belongs in the category of The Ingenuity Short Story, so largely does it depend upon the element of the unusual; but for that fact it should have been listed earlier, because it has little care for plot. Indeed, these stories are the free...
  • The "Ingenuity" Short Story
    on Nov 9, 2009 in Types of Short Story
    The "Ingenuity" story is one of the most modern forms of the short story, and, if I may be pardoned the prolixity, one of the most ingenious. It might be called the "fairy tale of the grown-up," for its interest depends entirely upon its appeal to th...
  • The Length of a Short Story
    on Sep 7, 2009 in Basic Elements
    The question of length is but relative; in general a short story should not exceed 10,000 words, and it could hardly contain less than 1,000; while from 3,000 to 5,000 is the most usual length. Yet Hawthorne's "The Gentle Boy" contains 12,000 words;...
  • The Offbeat Short Story
    on Jul 27, 2009 in Types of Short Story
    This type of short story owes its interest to the innate love of the supernatural or unexplainable which is a part of our complex human nature—the same feeling which prompts a group of children to beg for "just one more" ghost story, while they are...
  • The "Moral" Story
    on Jun 24, 2009 in Types of Short Story
    The Moral Story, in spite of the beautiful examples left us by Hawthorne, is usually too baldly didactic to attain or hold a high place in literature. Its avowed purpose is to preach, and, as ordinarily written, preach it does in the most determined...
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