How to Write a Short Story

Personally, I love short stories, but I’m very selective and only those from the masters of the genre make the cut (I’m very partial to Maugham myself) But anyway, this blog is a lesson in how to write sharp prose – worth reading just for that.

Idle blogs of an idle fellow

“A short story must have a single mood and every sentence must build towards it.”

Edgar Allan Poe.

Short stories? Well they must be so easy, they take 20 minutes to read and surely not much more time to write. It’s nothing like the himalayan trek without sherpas, supplies or basic knowledge of mountaineering of the novel. No need to be worrying about 500 page story arcs, or where you’re going to find all those words. You don’t waste time getting the angle of trees shadows at 4pm right, you get to the point. Writing short stories also avoids batting off enquiries from family members as to why you haven’t finished yet. Just sit down, knock one out, and then start writing (boom).

Short stories used to be the scaffold to any fledgling literary career. They are snappy, cool, quick, concise, well-balanced and elegant. Other than these things what’s not…

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14 thoughts on “How to Write a Short Story

  1. I bought Tom Hanks book “Uncommon Type” recently – a compilation of short stories he has written over the years involving typewriters (random, I know). I haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. I love short stories too – I grew up reading all manner of science fiction short stories by Arthur C Clarke, Isaac Asimov, and so on.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I think Roald Dahl wrote some of the episodes for the TV show “Tales of the Unexpected” years ago – really dark, twisted stories. Now I want to go look some of them up – I wonder if they are in that book ?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Less of a ‘How To..” and more of a shameless plug!… but a fun read none-the less. I can see why you enjoy reading The Idle One. 🙂

    I can so relate to the Burned grass and Beef Ribs comment, even though most of my (limited) writing these days inclines more to the short non-fiction genre, one of which might make my blog soon.

    ( Hey – i learned how to ‘plug’. It was a ‘How To…’ after all!) 😉

    Take care of yourself. ox

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah. I disabled comments for that post. But some people are dedicated and will comment anyway…on other posts, or they email me. But, ok – I’ll look out for it. (And ‘masterful’? Candice…Are you sure you weren’t reading somebody else? 😉)


  3. Should I be worried that it takes me WAY longer than 20 minutes to write a short story that takes 5 minutes to read? Oh well, I can admit I’m no Edgar Allen Poe. Cool article. Thanks.


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