Intro to the short story

Once upon a time, I almost used a short story as my origin piece.

Really! In high school, I took a couple writing classes and learned the art of the short story there, then decided I wanted to be a fiction writer. Sure, those plans have changed a bit now, and I read and write mostly nonfiction, but for my final experiment, I wanted to return to my roots.

Most generally, a short story is fictional and has a beginning, middle and end with characters and dialogue advancing the plot. As opposed to a novel, most short stories have fewer characters and focus on only one plot line. Experts disagree about exactly what length constitutes a short story, but most say they range from 1,000-7,500 words, and some push that up to 10,000.

This is a list of short story tips from one of the craft’s masters, Kurt Vonnegut. Most of the tips involve how to cater a short story to an audience: make sure the reader doesn’t think their time was wasted, create at least one character the reader can root for, give as much information as soon as possible, but at the same time, don’t try to please everyone.

My particular genre will be a young adult short story. I want to further explore the ideas of social media and identity by writing about a high school girl who is cyberbullied and finds mean tweets about herself, but simultaneously anonymously runs one of the most popular Twitter accounts at the school. As a teen, I read several YA short-story anthologies, such as My True Love Gave to Me and Geektastic. While I plan to write a singular short story rather than an anthology, I plan to write my short story in the same style as the ones in these anthologies.

For a young adult short story in particular, it’s important to make sure your characters are people high school-aged teenagers will relate to and is written in a style they will like to read. As someone who read and wrote tons of YA in high school, I’m excited to dive back into the genre. This story will also have a personal connection to me, not just in my experience with mean tweets as it relates to my Jeopardy! appearance but also because my Twitter account is popular, but I don’t have a lot of friends in real life, similar to my main character.

4 thoughts to “Intro to the short story”

  1. I’m interested to see how your transition from a fiction writer to a non-fiction writer affects your writing as you return to writing fiction! I wonder if the aspects of your non-fiction writing and more personal experience play into how you go about writing a short story in the present, and I think this a great genre choice for your topic.

  2. Hey Aria,
    I love your idea of going back to your “roots” and choosing to explore the short story genre! I think the genre of a young adult short story is very fascinating—especially with researching the topic about social media and identity, as this is a huge part of society today that we can all relate to! I am really excited to see where this short story experiment takes you! 🙂

  3. Hello again!

    I’ve really loved watching your origin piece unfold throughout the semester! Personally, I loved your first genre! What I was left wanting after that was your own experience/story! Crafting a story, despite this one not being non-fiction, seems like a really human way of going about this. I am genuinely curious about which genre you’ll stick with (I’m rooting for the first one), and think you would really excel in this one! I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

    All the best,

  4. I think this genre is perfect for your style of writing because as a Daily sports writer, we’re taught to both and engaging and concise, which is exactly what this genre requires! You bring the authority to this genre from your own personal experiences and there is so much content research your could do about cyberbullying and online friendships in the modern era!

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