Write with Me: Researching
I feel like any writer can relate when I say that there is always that one thing they are afraid of when it comes to writing. For some people, it could be writing dialogue, and for others, it could be writing descriptions. I struggle with both of those things, but there is one thing that I have been wanting to do for the longest time, but I have just been too afraid of doing it incorrectly. What is that thing, you ask?
Writing a short story.
I have only written novels, so the whole concept of a short story frightens me. How am I supposed to write fleshed-out characters if I don’t have that many pages? What kind of plot can I fit into so few pages? I’ve let these questions stop me from even trying to write a short story, but I’ve been learning that I can’t let fear stop me from doing most of the things I want to do. A lot of the things that have brought me joy in life only happened because I didn’t listen to the fearful voice in my mind. So, I’m going to write a short story and bring you guys along with me!
If you are anything like me, my anxiety over something only really lessens when I have more information about it. My friends usually tease me about this, especially when I do it in video games. Like when I played Final Fantasy XIV, I used to search the mechanics of a boss before even trying it. My friends would tell me it’s so much better to go in blind, but the absolute anxiety I would feel from the idea of doing that always stops me. What if I did something wrong and everyone yelled at me for it? I’d rather not even let that possibly happen. I feel a lot more comfortable knowing at least something about what I am getting myself into. So, to start this off, I am going to do research on short stories.
What is a Short Story?
This might seem like a really obvious question, but I always like starting my research with a good definition of what I am searching for. Merriam-Webster defines a short story as “an invented prose narrative shorter than a novel usually dealing with a few characters and aiming at unity of effect and often concentrating on the creation of mood rather than plot.” What surprises me is the idea that a short story focuses more on the mood rather than the plot, but it does seem to make sense. With a limited word count, you may not be able to have the most elaborate plot, but you can definitely set up a mood.
Now that I have seen a definition, another thing I tend to Google is: “How to ___.”Obviously, I am not going to learn how to write a short story just from reading some tips on a website, but I think reading these tips does help me get a better idea of what a short story is supposed to look like.
One of the posts that I saw when I searched “How to write a short story” was one from Reedsy. One tip that stuck out to me was focusing on either a single character, setting, or event. As someone who usually works on novels, it is a strange concept having to focus on one of those because a novel usually has multiple of those things. Maybe by trying out a short story, I can learn how to master those things in a smaller scope. Another tip that I found was to start with the rising action. Most short stories don’t tend to have a backstory. They drop the reader directly into the action.
I also read another post on Blurb.com that goes into more detail about the elements of a short story. To start out with, it says that most short stories are read in one sitting with an average word count of 1,000 to 7,500 words, but some short stories have definitely been longer than that. Another thing that I found interesting is that most short stories nowadays have ambiguous endings and are left to reader interpretation, which is something I have definitely wanted to try in a story.
Examples of Short Stories
“The Fall of the House of Usher” by Edgar Allan Poe
When I think of a short story, what first comes to mind is the short story “The Fall of the House of Usher” by Edgar Allan Poe. Poe starts out this short story by establishing the setting. By doing so, Poe makes it clear that this is a spooky tale. If you haven’t read the beginning of “The Fall of the House of Usher,” then here is an excerpt: