How Not to Write Short Stories

By Bhalachandra Sahaj
short storyShort stories: the real scourge for depressed high school and college students! What can be punier than forced-out creativity? In attempts to complete their short story assignments, students sometimes create masterpieces (this was sarcastic). Even though tons of guides and tutoring materials exist that allow even the least talented people to write mediocre stories, students keep writing really bad ones. So, here is the …

Wrong Way to Write Short Stories

1. Yeah, I know how it sucks to have to write a short story on command. Cry in a dark closet, eat a ton of cakes, and start wearing black. At least you will get some sympathetic attention this way.

2. Keep procrastinating. Everybody knows writing is a creative process, so there is no way you could possibly force it out. Wait until the very last day before submission—this is how you stimulate your inspiration.

3. Start writing without any clear idea. It is enough to compose one great opening paragraph (or, frankly, any paragraph), and then the story will unfold on its own.

4. Invent all your characters with the flow of the story. There is nothing reasonable in creating lists of characters and connections between them from the beginning—how the hell can you know what is going to happen to them further? So, the best option is to create characters in motion.

5. Since you’ve been procras-stimulating your inspiration ‘till the very last moment, you have no time for plans or outlines. Who would even care about them anyways?

6. True inspiration and creativity is incompatible with such technical stuff as editing or proofreading. A story is good as it’s written; either you write it perfectly in one go, or you never write it at all.

7. Less descriptions! Focus on actions. A good idea is to make the entire story one big dialogue, or a retelling of the sequence of characters’ actions.

8. If you don’t have a clear ending, you don’t have to compose one. Allow your story to be somewhat unsaid. Everything unsaid is intriguing—tell this to your teacher when he or she asks you about the ending.

I just hope I’ll never have to read short stories written according to the hints above.

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