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.