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Three Tips for Writing Better Short Stories

Ed Gentle

Edgar “Ed” Gentle is a partner and attorney at Gentle, Turner, Sexton, and Harbison, LLC, in Birmingham, Alabama. In this role, he mostly serves as a Special Master and Settlement Administrator for the courts. Outside of his professional life, Ed Gentle enjoys writing short stories and has had his works published in his own collection titled Pond Mountain Tales.

Whether you are looking to get published or just hone your creative writing and storytelling abilities, short stories can help you reach that goal. These three tips will assist you on your writing journey to produce the best short stories you are capable of writing.
1. Focus - Short stories are not the place for sweeping, epic narratives or incredibly complex characters. While your characters and plots are still crucial, keep your limited real estate in mind. Strive to keep the story focused on one viewpoint and do not waste too much time describing minor characters or subplots.
2. Knowledge - While keeping your narrative tightly focused is crucial for short stories, do not skimp on the world and character building. While only a fraction of it may actually make it into the story, intimately knowing your characters, world, and situations will help lend authenticity and authority to your work.
3. Starting Point - Many new writers start telling their short stories way too early in the narrative. Readers do not need to know how your character’s breakfast went if the real story starts at noon. When writing your story, ask yourself if it would still work and make sense without your first page. If so, then you have started the narrative too early. Start with a bang by jumping ahead to where the action or conflict starts. Aim for the latest possible point you can to still get your themes, points, and morals across.

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