Short story writing is a subset of fiction composition that is everything that a well-written fiction story has to offer, but just compressed into fewer words. That does not in any way mean that it is short on any element of a story. It is complete in every sense but is still condensed enough to qualify as a short story.
For that reason, not every idea can be rightfully delivered as a short story. While others can be justly written as short ghost stories for kids, and can also be extended to make a compelling novella. Here, we are going to focus on how to find such ideas that have the potential to make a good short story.
Form an Observer’s Mindset
Do not go about your daily chores mindlessly. When you’re grabbing a coffee from your local café, driving around town, or doing groceries, take a look at the world around you. Observe the people and try to brainstorm what their backstories would be. Find someone in an unusual state? Think of a creative reason why they would ever do that. Came across an oddly specific post, or a funny clip of someone doing something odd? Explore the possibility that there is a story to be told about that.
Develop a Habit of Taking Notes
Keep a notebook or mobile phone app handy in which you can quickly take notes of your observations. You need a designated place to store all your thoughts before they disappear from your memory. It has to be easily accessible, so if you come up with a great idea in the shower while cooking or walking to the store, you can note it down immediately.
Do not try to be overly critical with your notes. You can’t know from the get-go if an idea is good enough to be turned into a short story or not. Be open to your opinions and collect as many ideas as you can. Even if a thought isn’t worth writing a complete story over, it may still be useful for other aspects like a small scene in your plot, or a character’s backstory.
Explore the Ideas
As previously discussed, until you sit down to write about an idea, you can’t be completely sure if the thought in your head will turn out to be a great story or not. But you will naturally have an idea about which ideas are worth pursuing more than the other. Just be open to possibilities, and explore each idea by actually writing about them.
Pick an idea, and try to write a basic outline or plot of your story. Use bullet points, or make text bubbles on a sketchbook, whichever works for you. But write them down. In case of smaller ideas that you just noted down to help in creating a character, write the description of that character. In the case of the concept of a plot, see if you can write down a short summary of a story around it.
Write, Write & Write
No author has ever started ghost writing on the first page and stopped at the end of a killer short story in a single go. You may even have to write a hundred failed attempts at a short story before you actually achieve a compelling one that is worth publishing. This is why we previously mentioned not to be overly critical about the worth of an idea before you even test it out in the writing field.
Another thing to not fret about is the limited word count of a short story. When you begin writing on a concept, test it out and see how far you go. The very process of writing, where you’re contesting with your thoughts and transforming them into words, will open more doors for your creative brain to come up with better, stronger, more compelling ideas.
The best advice that only works well with short stories. If you find yourself going on a tangent that doesn’t serve the purpose of pushing your storyline forward. Start a new page and continue writing about it as a separate idea. It does not have to be a complete story. But oftentimes, in those tangents is where your interest lies, where you’re more likely to write a better story, even if it does not conform to your requirements of purpose, confinements of the previously selected plot, or the limitations of word count.
Lastly, if you haven’t noticed yet, every piece of advice invites you to take action towards writing. Daydreaming and brainstorming alone can’t possibly produce a story. You have to contest your thoughts in writing, and from that process, a great short story has emerged. Do not sit around and wait for the perfect idea to satisfy your story writing need. Utilize your environment, raw thoughts and build on them by writing. You’ll have a compelling short story at your hand in no time, but after putting in considerable effort. Start working on it.