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  • What Is Creative Writing? The ULTIMATE Guide!

Creative Writing Summer School in Yale - students discussing

At Oxford Royale Academy, we offer a range of summer school programmes that have become extremely popular amongst students of all ages. The subject of creative writing continues to intrigue many academics as it can help to develop a range of skills that will benefit you throughout your career and life.

Nevertheless, that initial question is one that continues to linger and be asked time and time again: what is creative writing? More specifically, what does it mean or encompass? How does creative writing differ from other styles of writing?

During our Oxford Summer School programme , we will provide you with in-depth an immersive educational experience on campus in the colleges of the best university in the world. However, in this guide, we want to provide a detailed analysis of everything to do with creative writing, helping you understand more about what it is and why it could benefit you to become a creative writer.

The best place to start is with a definition.

What is creative writing?

The dictionary definition of creative writing is that it is original writing that expresses ideas and thoughts in an imaginative way. [1] Some academics will also define it as the art of making things up, but both of these definitions are too simplistic in the grand scheme of things.

It’s challenging to settle on a concrete definition as creative writing can relate to so many different things and formats. Naturally, as the name suggests, it is all built around the idea of being creative or imaginative. It’s to do with using your brain and your own thoughts to create writing that goes outside the realms of what’s expected. This type of writing tends to be more unique as it comes from a personal place. Each individual has their own level of creativity, combined with their own thoughts and views on different things. Therefore, you can conjure up your own text and stories that could be completely different from others.

Understanding creative writing can be challenging when viewed on its own. Consequently, the best way to truly understand this medium is by exploring the other main forms of writing. From here, we can compare and contrast them with the art of creative writing, making it easier to find a definition or separate this form of writing from others.

What are the main forms of writing?

In modern society, we can identify five main types of writing styles [1] that will be used throughout daily life and a plethora of careers:

  • Narrative Writing
  • Descriptive Writing
  • Persuasive Writing
  • Expository Writing
  • Creative Writing

Narrative writing refers to storytelling in its most basic form. Traditionally, this involves telling a story about a character and walking the readers through the journey they go on. It can be a long novel or a short story that’s only a few hundred words long. There are no rules on length, and it can be completely true or a work of fiction.

A fundamental aspect of narrative writing that makes it different from other forms is that it should includes the key elements of storytelling. As per UX Planet, there are seven core elements of a good story or narrative [2] : the plot, characters, theme, dialogue, melody, decor and spectacle. Narrative writing will include all of these elements to take the ready on a journey that starts at the beginning, has a middle point, but always comes to a conclusion. This style of writing is typically used when writing stories, presenting anecdotes about your life, creating presentations or speeches and for some academic essays.

Descriptive writing, on the other hand, is more focused on the details. When this type of writing is used, it’s focused on capturing the reader’s attention and making them feel like they are part of the story. You want them to live and feel every element of a scene, so they can close their eyes and be whisked away to whatever place or setting you describe.

In many ways, descriptive writing is writing as an art form. Good writers can be given a blank canvas, using their words to paint a picture for the audience. There’s a firm focus on the five senses all humans have; sight, smell, touch, sound and taste. Descriptive writing touches on all of these senses to tell the reader everything they need to know and imagine about a particular scene.

This is also a style of writing that makes good use of both similes and metaphors. A simile is used to describe something as something else, while a metaphor is used to show that something is something else. There’s a subtle difference between the two, but they both aid descriptive writing immensely. According to many writing experts, similes and metaphors allow an author to emphasise, exaggerate, and add interest to a story to create a more vivid picture for the reader [3] .

Looking at persuasive writing and we have a form of writing that’s all about making yourself heard. You have an opinion that you want to get across to the reader, convincing them of it. The key is to persuade others to think differently, often helping them broaden their mind or see things from another point of view. This is often confused with something called opinionative writing, which is all about providing your opinions. While the two seem similar, the key difference is that persuasive writing is built around the idea of submitting evidence and backing your thoughts up. It’s not as simple as stating your opinion for other to read; no, you want to persuade them that your thoughts are worth listening to and perhaps worth acting on.

This style of writing is commonly used journalistically in news articles and other pieces designed to shine a light on certain issues or opinions. It is also typically backed up with statistical evidence to give more weight to your opinions and can be a very technical form of writing that’s not overly emotional.

Expository writing is more focused on teaching readers new things. If we look at its name, we can take the word exposure from it. According to Merriam-Webster [4] , one of the many definitions of exposure is to reveal something to others or present them with something they otherwise didn’t know. In terms of writing, it can refer to the act of revealing new information to others or exposing them to new ideas.

Effectively, expository writing focuses on the goal of leaving the reader with new knowledge of a certain topic or subject. Again, it is predominately seen in journalistic formats, such as explainer articles or ‘how-to’ blogs. Furthermore, you also come across it in academic textbooks or business writing.

This brings us back to the centre of attention for this guide: what is creative writing?

Interestingly, creative writing is often seen as the style of writing that combines many of these forms together in one go. Narrative writing can be seen as creative writing as you are coming up with a story to keep readers engaged, telling a tale for them to enjoy or learn from. Descriptive writing is very much a key part of creative writing as you are using your imagination and creative skills to come up with detailed descriptions that transport the reader out of their home and into a different place.

Creative writing can even use persuasive writing styles in some formats. Many writers will combine persuasive writing with a narrative structure to come up with a creative way of telling a story to educate readers and provide new opinions for them to view or be convinced of. Expository writing can also be involved here, using creativity and your imagination to answer questions or provide advice to the reader.

Essentially, creative writing can combine other writing types to create a unique and new way of telling a story or producing content. At the same time, it can include absolutely none of the other forms at all. The whole purpose of creative writing is to think outside the box and stray from traditional structures and norms. Fundamentally, we can say there are no real rules when it comes to creative writing, which is what makes it different from the other writing styles discussed above.

What is the purpose of creative writing?

Another way to understand and explore the idea of creative writing is to look at its purpose. What is the aim of most creative works of writing? What do they hope to provide the reader with?

We can look at the words of Bryanna Licciardi, an experienced creative writing tutor, to understand the purpose of creative writing. She writes that the primary purpose is to entertain and share human experiences, like love or loss. Writers attempt to reveal the truth with regard to humanity through poetics and storytelling. [5] She also goes on to add that the first step of creative writing is to use one’s imagination.

When students sign up to our creative writing courses, we will teach them how to write with this purpose. Your goal is to create stories or writing for readers that entertain them while also providing information that can have an impact on their lives. It’s about influencing readers through creative storytelling that calls upon your imagination and uses the thoughts inside your head. The deeper you dive into the art of creative writing, the more complex it can be. This is largely because it can be expressed in so many different formats. When you think of creative writing, your instinct takes you to stories and novels. Indeed, these are both key forms of creative writing that we see all the time. However, there are many other forms of creative writing that are expressed throughout the world.

What are the different forms of creative writing?

Looking back at the original and simple definition of creative writing, it relates to original writing in a creative and imaginative way. Consequently, this can span across so many genres and types of writing that differ greatly from one another. This section will explore and analyse the different types of creative writing, displaying just how diverse this writing style can be – while also showcasing just what you’re capable of when you learn how to be a creative writer.

The majority of students will first come across creative writing in the form of essays . The point of an essay is to present a coherent argument in response to a stimulus or question. [6] In essence, you are persuading the reader that your answer to the question is correct. Thus, creative writing is required to get your point across as coherently as possible, while also using great descriptive writing skills to paint the right message for the reader.

Moreover, essays can include personal essays – such as writing a cover letter for work or a university application. Here, great creativity is needed to almost write a story about yourself that captivates the reader and takes them on a journey with you. Excellent imagination and persuasive writing skills can help you tell your story and persuade those reading that you are the right person for the job or university place.

Arguably, this is the most common way in which creative writing is expressed. Fictional work includes novels, novellas, short stories – and anything else that is made up. The very definition of fiction by the Cambridge Dictionary states that it is the type of book or story that is written about imaginary characters and events not based on real people and facts. [7] As such, it means that your imagination is called upon to create something out of nothing. It is a quintessential test of your creative writing skills, meaning you need to come up with characters, settings, plots, descriptions and so much more.

Fictional creative writing in itself takes on many different forms and can be completely different depending on the writer. That is the real beauty of creative writing; you can have entirely different stories and characters from two different writers. Just look at the vast collection of fictional work around you today; it’s the perfect way to see just how versatile creative writing can be depending on the writer.

Similarly, scripts can be a type of creative writing that appeals to many. Technically, a script can be considered a work of fiction. Nevertheless, it depends on the script in question. Scripts for fictional television shows, plays or movies are obviously works of fiction. You, the writer, has come up with the characters and story of the show/play/movie, bringing it all to life through the script. But, scripts can also be non-fictional. Creating a play or movie that adapts real-life events will mean you need to write a script based on something that genuinely happened.

Here, it’s a perfect test of creative writing skills as you take a real event and use your creative talents to make it more interesting. The plot and narrative may already be there for you, so it’s a case of using your descriptive writing skills to really sell it to others and keep readers – or viewers – on the edge of their seats.

A speech is definitely a work of creative writing. The aim of a speech can vary depending on what type of speech it is. A politician delivering a speech in the House of Commons will want to get a point across to persuade others in the room. They’ll need to use creative writing to captivate their audience and have them hanging on their every word. A recent example of a great speech was the one by Sir David Attenborough at the recent COP26 global climate summit. [8] Listening to the speech is a brilliant way of understanding how creative writing can help get points across. His speech went viral around the world because of how electrifying and enthralling it is. The use of many descriptive and persuasive words had people hanging onto everything he said. He really created a picture and an image for people to see, convincing them that the time is now to work on stopping and reversing climate change.

From this speech to a completely different one, you can see creative writing at play for speeches at weddings and other jovial events. Here, the purpose is more to entertain guests and make them laugh. At the same time, someone giving a wedding speech will hope to create a lovely story for the guests to enjoy, displaying the true love that the married couple share for one another. Regardless of what type of speech an individual is giving, creative writing skills are required for it to be good and captivating.

Poetry & Songs

The final example of creative writing is twofold; poetry and songs. Both of these formats are similar to one another, relying on creativity to deliver a combination of things. Poetry can take so many forms and styles, but it aims to inspire readers and get them thinking. Poems often have hidden meanings behind them, and it takes a great deal of imagination and creativity to come up with these meanings while also creating a powerful poem. Some argue that poetry is the most creative of all creative writing forms.

Songwriting is similar in that you use creativity to come up with lyrics that can have powerful meanings while also conjuring up a story for people. The best songwriters will use lyrics that stay in people’s minds and get them thinking about the meaning behind the song. If you lack imagination and creativity, you will never be a good songwriter.

In truth, there are so many other types and examples of creative writing that you can explore. The ones listed above are the most common and powerful, and they all do a great job of demonstrating how diverse creative writing can be. If you can hone your skills in creative writing, it opens up many opportunities for you in life. Primarily, creative writing focuses on fictional pieces of work, but as you can see, non-fiction also requires a good deal of creativity.

What’s needed to make a piece of creative writing?

Our in-depth analysis of creative writing has led to a point where you’re aware of this style of writing and its purpose, along with some examples of it in the real world. The next question to delve into is what do you need to do to make a piece of creative writing. To phrase this another way; how do you write something that comes under the creative heading rather than another form of writing?

There is an element of difficulty in answering this question as creative writing has so many different types and genres. Consequently, there isn’t a set recipe for the perfect piece of creative writing, and that’s what makes this format so enjoyable and unique. Nevertheless, we can discover some crucial elements or principles that will help make a piece of writing as creative and imaginative as possible:

A target audience

All creative works will begin by defining a target audience. There are many ways to define a target audience, with some writers suggesting that you think about who is most likely to read your work. However, this can still be challenging as you’re unsure of the correct demographic to target. Writer’s Digest makes a good point of defining your target audience by considering your main motivation for writing in the first place. [9] It’s a case of considering what made you want to start writing – whether it’s a blog post, novel, song, poem, speech, etc. Figuring out your motivation behind it will help you zero in on your target audience.

Defining your audience is vital for creative writing as it helps you know exactly what to write and how to write it. All of your work should appeal to this audience and be written in a way that they can engage with. As a simple example, authors that write children’s stories will adapt their writing to appeal to the younger audience. Their stories include lots of descriptions and words that children understand, rather than being full of long words and overly academic writing.

Establishing the audience lets the writer know which direction to take things in. As a result, this can aid with things like character choices, plot, storylines, settings, and much more.

A story of sorts

Furthermore, great works of creative writing will always include a story of sorts. This is obvious for works such as novels, short stories, scripts, etc. However, even for things like poems, songs or speeches, a story helps make it creative. It gives the audience something to follow, helping them make sense of the work. Even if you’re giving a speech, setting a story can help you create a scene in people’s minds that makes them connect to what you’re saying. It’s a very effective way of persuading others and presenting different views for people to consider.

Moreover, consider the definition of a story/narrative arc. One definition describes it as a term that describes a story’s full progression. It visually evokes the idea that every story has a relatively calm beginning, a middle where tension, character conflict and narrative momentum builds to a peak and an end where the conflict is resolved. [10]

Simplifying this, we can say that all works of creative writing need a general beginning, middle and end. It’s a way of bringing some sort of structure to your writing so you know where you are going, rather than filling it with fluff or waffle.

A good imagination

Imagination is a buzzword that we’ve used plenty of times throughout this deep dive into creative writing. Every creative writing course you go on will spend a lot of time focusing on the idea of using your imagination. The human brain is a marvellously powerful thing that holds the key to creative freedom and expressing yourself in new and unique ways. If you want to make something creative, you need to tap into your imagination.

People use their imagination in different ways; some will be able to conjure up ideas for stories or worlds that exist beyond our own. Others will use theirs to think of ways of describing things in a more creative and imaginative way. Ultimately, a good imagination is what sets your work apart from others within your genre. This doesn’t mean you need to come up with the most fantastical novel of all time to have something classified as creative writing. No, using your imagination and creativity can extend to something as simple as your writing style.

Ultimately, it’s more about using your imagination to find your own personal flair and creative style. You will then be able to write unique pieces that stand out from the others and keep audiences engaged.

How can creative writing skills benefit you?

When most individuals or students consider creative writing, they imagine a world where they are writing stories for a living. There’s a common misconception that creative writing skills are only beneficial for people pursuing careers in scriptwriting, storytelling, etc. Realistically, enhancing ones creative writing skills can open up many windows of opportunity throughout your education and career.

  • Improve essay writing – Naturally, creative writing forms a core part of essays and other written assignments in school and university. Improving your skills in this department can help a student get better at writing powerful essays and achieving top marks. In turn, this can impact your career by helping you get better grades to access better jobs in the future.
  • Become a journalist – Journalists depend on creative writing to make stories that capture audiences and have people hanging on their every word. You need high levels of creativity to turn a news story into something people are keen to read or watch.
  • Start a blog – In modern times, blogging is a useful tool that can help people find profitable and successful careers. The whole purpose of a blog is to provide your opinions to the masses while also entertaining, informing and educating. Again, having a firm grasp of creative writing skills will aid you in building your blog audience.
  • Write marketing content – From advert scripts to content on websites, marketing is fuelled by creative writing. The best marketers will have creative writing skills to draw an audience in and convince them to buy products. If you can learn to get people hanging on your every word, you can make it in this industry.

These points all demonstrate the different ways in which creative writing can impact your life and alter your career. In terms of general career skills, this is one that you simply cannot go without.

How to improve your creative writing

One final part of this analysis of creative writing is to look at how students can improve. It begins by reading as much as you can and taking in lots of different content. Read books, poems, scripts, articles, blogs – anything you can find. Listen to music and pay attention to the words people use and the structure of their writing. It can help you pick up on things like metaphors, similes, and how to use your imagination. Of course, writing is the key to improving; the more you write, the more creative you can get as you will start unlocking the powers of your brain.

Conclusion: What is creative writing

In conclusion, creative writing uses a mixture of different types of writing to create stories that stray from traditional structures and norms. It revolves around the idea of using your imagination to find a writing style that suits you and gets your points across to an audience, keeping them engaged in everything you say. From novels to speeches, there are many forms of creative writing that can help you in numerous career paths throughout your life.

[1] SkillShare: The 5 Types of Writing Styles with Examples

[2] Elements of Good Story Telling – UX Planet

[3] Simile vs Metaphor: What’s the Difference? – ProWritingAid

[4] Definition of Exposure by Merriam-Webster

[5] The Higher Purpose of Creative Writing | by Terveen Gill

[6] Essay purpose – Western Sydney University

[7] FICTION | meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary

[8] ‘Not fear, but hope’ – Attenborough speech in full – BBC News

[9] Writer’s Digest: Who Is Your Target Reader?

[10] What is a Narrative Arc? • A Guide to Storytelling Structure

The Write Practice

How to Write a Short Story: 5 Major Steps from Start to Finish

by Sarah Gribble | 81 comments

Want to Become a Published Author? In 100 Day Book, you’ll finish your book guaranteed. Learn more and sign up here.

Do you want to learn how to write a short story ? Maybe you'd like to try writing a short story instead of a novel-length work, or maybe you're hoping to get more writing practice without the lengthy time commitment that a novel requires.

The reality of writing stories? Not every short story writer wants to write a novel, but every novelist can benefit from writing short stories. However, short stories and novels are different—so naturally, how you write them has its differences, too.

how to write a short story

Short stories are often a fiction writer’s first introduction to writing, but they can be frustrating to write and difficult to master. How do you fit everything that makes a great story into something so short?

And then, once you do finish a short story you’re proud of, what do you do with it?

That's what we'll cover in this article, along with additional resources I'll link to that will help you get started step-by-step with shorts.

Short Stories Made Me a Better Writer

I fell into writing short stories when I first started writing.

I'd written a book , and it was terrible. But it opened up my mind and I kept having all these story ideas I just had to get out.

Before long, I had dozens of stories and within about two years, I had around three dozen of them published traditionally. That first book went nowhere, by the way. But my short stories surely did.

And I learned a whole lot about the writing craft because I spent so much time practicing writing with my short stories. This is why, whether you want to make money as a short story writer or experiment writing them, I think writing short stories is important for every writer who wants to become a novelist.

But how do you write a short story? And what do you do afterwards? I hope that by sharing my personal experiences and suggestions, I can help you write your own short stories with confidence.

Why Should You Write Short Stories?

I get a lot of pushback when I suggest new writers should write short stories.

Everyone wants to write a book. (Okay, maybe not everyone, but if you ask a hundred people if they’d like to write one, I’d bet seventy-something of them would say yes.) Anthologies and short story collections don’t make a ton of money because no one really wants to read them. So why waste time writing short stories when books are what people read ?

There are three main reasons you should be a short story writer:

1. Training

Short stories help you hone your writing skills .

Short stories are often only one scene and about one character. That’s a level of focus you can’t have in a novel. Writing short stories forces you to focus on writing clearly and concisely while still making a scene entertaining.

You’re working with the basic level of structure here (a scene) and learning to perfect it .

Short stories are a place to experiment with your creative process, to play with character development techniques, to dabble in different kinds of writing styles. 

And you're learning what a finished story feels like. So many aspiring novelists have only half-done drafts in drawers. A short is training yourself to finish.

2. Building contacts and readers

Most writers I know do not want to hear this, but this whole writing thing is the same as any other industry: if you want to make it, you better network.

When my first book, Surviving Death , was released, I had hundreds of people on my launch team. How? I’d had about three dozen short stories published traditionally by that time. I’d gathered a readership base, and not only that, I’d become acquainted with some fellow writers in my genre along the way. And those people were more than willing to help me get the word out about my book.

You want loyal readers and you want friends in the industry. And the way to get those is to continuously be writing.

Writing is like working out. If you take a ton of time off, you’re going to hurt when you get back into it.

It’s a little difficult to be working on a novel all the time. Most writers have one or two in them a year, and those aren’t written without a bit of a break in between.

Short story writing helps you keep up your writing habit , or develop one, and they make for a nice break in between larger projects.

I always write short stories between novels, and even between drafts of my novels. It keeps me going and puts use to all the random story ideas I had while working on the larger project. I've found over the years that keeping up the writing habit is the only way to actually keep yourself in “writer mode.”

All the cool kids are doing it. Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Edgar Allan Poe, Kurt Vonnegut, Margaret Atwood . . . Google your favorite writers and they probably have a short story collection or two out there. Most successful authors have cut their teeth on short stories.

What is a Short Story?

Now that you know why you should be writing short stories, let’s talk about what a short story is. This might seem obvious, but it’s a question I’ve gotten a lot. A short story is short, right? Essentially, yes. But how short is short?

You can Google how long a short story is and get a bunch of different answers. There are a lot of different editors out there running a lot of different anthologies, magazines, ezines, podcasts, you name it. They all have slightly different definitions of what a short story is because they all have slightly different needs when it comes to providing content on their platform and meeting the expectations of their audiences.

A podcast, for instance, often wants a story to take up about thirty minutes of airtime. They know how long it takes their producers to read a story, so that thirty minutes means they’re looking for a very specific word count. An ezine might aim for a certain estimated reading time. A magazine or anthology might have a certain number of pages they’re trying to fill.

Everyone has a different definition of how short a short story is, so for the purpose of this series, I’m going to be broad in my definition of a short story.

What qualifies as a short story?

A short story word count normally falls somewhere between 1,000 words and 10,000 words. If you’re over ten thousand, you’re running into novelette territory, though some publications consider up to 20,000 words to be a short story. If you’re under a thousand words, you’re looking at flash fiction.

The sweet spot is between 2,000 and 5,000 words. The majority of short stories I’ve had published were between 2,500 words and 3,500 words.

That’s not a lot of words, and you’ve got a lot to fit in—backstory, world-building, a character arc—in that tiny amount of space. (A book, by the way, is normally 60,000 to 90,000 words or longer. Big difference.)

A short story is one to three scenes. That’s it. Think of it as a “slice of life,” as in someone peeked into your life for maybe an hour or two and this is what they saw.

You’re not going to flesh out every detail about your characters. (I normally don’t even know the last names of my short story characters, and it doesn’t matter.) You’re not trying to build a Tolkien-level world. You don’t need to worry about subplots.

To focus your writing, think of a short story as a short series of events happening to a single character. The rest of the cast of characters should be small.

How to Write a Short Story: The Short Version

Throughout this blog series, I’ll take a deep dive into the process of writing short stories. If you’re looking for the fast answer, here it is:

  • Write the story in one sitting.
  • Take a break.
  • Edit with a mind for brevity.
  • Get feedback and do a final edit.

Write the story in one sitting

For the most part, short stories are meant to be read in one sitting, so it makes sense that you should write them in one sitting.

Obviously, if you’re in the 10K range, that’s probably going to take more than one writing session, but a 2,500-word short story can easily be written in one sitting. This might seem a little daunting, but you’ll find your enthusiasm will drive you to the ending and your story will flow better for it.

You’re not aiming for prize-winning writing during this stage. You’re aiming to get the basic story out of your head and on paper.

Forget about grammar . Forget about beautiful prose. Forget about even making a ton of sense.

You’re not worrying about word count at this stage, either. Don’t research and don’t pause over trying to find the exact right word. Don't agonize over the perfect story title.

Just get the basic story out. You can’t edit a blank page.

Take a break

Don’t immediately begin the editing process. After you’ve written anything, books included, you need to take a step back . Your brain needs to shift from “writer mode” to “reader mode.” With a short story, I normally recommend a three-day break.

If you have research to do, this is the time to do it, though I highly recommend not thinking about your story at all.

The further away you can get from it, the better you’ll edit.

Edit with a mind for brevity

Now that you’ve had a break, you’re ready to come back with a vengeance. This is the part where you “kill your darlings” and have absolutely no mercy for the story you produced less than a week ago. The second draft is where you get critical.

Remember we’re writing a short story here, not a novel. You don’t have time to go into each and every detail about your characters’ lives. You don’t have time for B-plots, a ton of characters, or Stephen King-level droning on.

Short stories should have a beginning, a middle, and an end, though. They’re short, but they’re still stories.

As you edit , ask yourself if each bit of backstory, world building, and anything else is something your reader needs to know. If they do, do they need to know it right at that moment? If they don’t, cut it.

Get feedback

If this is your first time letting other people see your writing, this can be a scary step. No one wants to be given criticism. But getting feedback is the most important step in the writing process next to writing.

The more eyes you can get on a piece of writing, the better.

I highly recommend getting feedback from someone who knows about writing, not your mother or your best friend. People we love are great, but they love you and won’t give you honest feedback. If you want praise, go to them. If you want to grow as a writer, join a writing community and get feedback from other writers.

When you’ve gotten some feedback from a handful of people, make any changes you deem necessary and do a final edit for smaller issues like grammar and punctuation.

Here at The Write Practice, we’re huge fans of publishing your work . In fact, we don’t quite consider a story finished until it’s published.

Whether you’re going the traditional route and submitting your short story to anthologies and magazines, or you’re more into self- publishing , don’t let your story languish on your computer. Get it out into the world so you can build your reader base.

And it’s pretty cool getting to say you’re a published author.

That’s the short version of how to go about writing short stories. Throughout this series, I’ll be taking a more in-depth look at different elements of these steps. Stick with me throughout the series, and you’ll have a short story of your own ready to publish by the end.

A Preview of My How to Write a Short Story Series

My goal in this blog series is to walk you through the process of writing a short story from start to finish and then point you in the right direction for getting that story published.

By the end of this series, you’ll have a story ready to submit to publishers and a plan for how to submit.

Below is a list of topics I’ll be covering during this blog series. Keep coming back as these topics are updated over the coming months.

How to Come up With Ideas For Short Stories

Creative writing is like a muscle: use it or lose it. Coming up with ideas is part of the development of that muscle. In this post , I’ll go over how to train your mind to put out ideas consistently.

How to Plan a Short Story (Without Really Planning It)

Short stories often don’t require extensive planning. They’re short, after all. But a little bit of outlining can help. Don’t worry, I’m mostly a pantser! I promise this won’t be an intense method of planning. It will, however, give you a start with the elements of story structure—and motivation to get you to finish (and publish) your story. Read this article to see how a little planning can go a long way toward writing a successful story.

What You Need in a Short Story/Elements of a Short Story

One of the biggest mistakes I see from new writers is their short stories aren’t actually stories. They're often missing a climax, don't have an ending, or just ramble on in a stream-of-consciousness way without any story structure. In this article , I’ll show you what you need to make sure your short is a complete story.

Writing Strategies for Short Stories

The writing process varies from person to person, and often from project to project. In this blog , I’ll talk about different writing strategies you can use to write short stories.

How to Edit a Short Story

Editing is my least favorite part of writing. It’s overwhelming and often tedious. I’ll talk about short story editing strategies to take the confusion out of the process, and ensure you can edit with confidence.Learn how to confidently edit your story here .

Writing a Better Short Story

Short stories are their own art form, mainly because of the small word count. In this post, I’ll discuss ways to write a better short, including fitting everything you want and need into that tiny word count.

Weaving backstory and worldbuilding into your story without overdoing it. Remember, you don't need every detail about the world or a character's life in a short story—but the setting shouldn't be ignored. How your protagonist interacts with it should be significant and interesting.

How to Submit a Short Story to Publications

There are plenty of literary magazines, ezines, anthologies, etc. out there that accept short stories for publication (and you can self-publish your stories, too). In this article, I’ll demystify the submission process so you can submit your own stories to publications and start getting your work out there. You'll see your work in a short story anthology soon after using the tips in this article !

Professionalism in the Writing Industry

Emotions can run high when you put your work out there for others to see. In this article, I’ll talk about what’s expected of you in this profession and how to maintain professionalism so that you don't shoot yourself in the foot when you approach publishers, editors, and agents.

Write, Write, Write!

As you follow this series, I challenge you to begin writing at least one short story a week. I'll be giving you in-depth tips on creating a compelling story as we go along, but for now, I want you to write. That habit is the hardest thing to start and the hardest thing to keep up.

You may not use all the stories you're going to write over the next months. You may hate them and never want them to see the light of day. But you can't get better if you don't practice. Start practicing now.

As Ray Bradbury says:

“Write a short story every week. It's not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.”

When it comes to writing short stories, what do you find most challenging? Let me know in the comments .

For today’s practice, let’s just take on Step #1 (and begin tackling the challenge I laid down a moment ago): Write the basic story idea, the gist of the premise, as you’d tell it to a friend. Don’t think about it too much, and don’t worry about going into detail. Just write.

Write for fifteen minutes .

When your time is up, share your practice in the Pro Practice Workshop. And after you post, please be sure to give feedback to your fellow writers.

Happy writing!

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Sarah Gribble

Sarah Gribble is the author of dozens of short stories that explore uncomfortable situations, basic fears, and the general awe and fascination of the unknown. She just released Surviving Death , her first novel, and is currently working on her next book.

Follow her on Instagram or join her email list for free scares.

How to Write Horror

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Bob Ranck

! ! ! JACKPOT ! ! !

I mean it! Finally, after months and months of reading literally hundreds of blog posts and comments, I find that you have addressed the writing of short stories in a manner that is direct, practical, and clear.

It is not my intention to write TGAN. It never was.

I hope, rather, to entertain with short stories drawn from the experiences of my living. This post has illuminated a clear path through the (often valuable, genuinely valid, but – for me, anyway – not-directly-relevant) facts, experiences and anecdotes of other writers and would-be practitioners of the art that all seem focused on novel-length work.

I would encourage you to entertain the possibility of more posts on the art form and production of short stories.

Joe Bunting

Wow, Bob. That’s so good to hear.

Speaking of short story articles, have you read my book Let’s Write a Short Story? You might enjoy it! Check out

Susan Barker

The picture on how to write a short story is pretty much how I wrote my first one and have started my second. I had my first one critiqued, then revised it to the critters suggestions (they made perfect sense) and my story has improved considerably. I thought I was being lame on how I came to write them, but I see now, I accidentally stumbled on the formula for writing. Thanks Joe. I’m writing easier now.

Love that, Susan. Like Neil said, there is no formula. You have to write the story the way it wants to be written. But I find that I need structure to keep myself motivated and moving, so this process usually helps me stay focused. Glad you’re finding the writing process easier!

Dana Schwartz

This is such a great post, Joe! I used to be primarily a short story writer but have been working on a novel for so long I feel as though I can’t remember how short stories work – but this brought it all back, and in a much better more clear cut manner than my old ways! I used to meander through a short story like a blind woman in the dark until I bumped into the ending – but I had a lot more time on my hands to do such meandering than I do now, so I’ll definitely give this technique a try!

I’ve done the same, Dana. However haltingly and messy my process has been, though, it usually follows this rough pattern I listed above. Has that been true for you as well?

I was always a “pantser” for stories, and would start with a concept or opening scene, and then feel my way through. It could take weeks to get a first draft. Then I’d edit. The first step of yours blew me away, the idea of writing a “story” without any pressure to make it great, to just get to the gist of it, is pretty brilliant. I often put so much pressure on myself to get it right on the page that it slows me down. I’m already at work (in my head) on part 1 of a story I’ve been meaning to rewrite, and I feel very confident about it thanks to your advice 🙂

Cynthia Franks

There is nothing wrong with pantsing it! I would be labeled a “pantser” but as I tell every one, it only looks that way. Outlines form around character so quickly in my head, it seems to be unplanned, but that is not true. I always have an outline, I just don’t spend a lot of time on it. The important thing is to write to end before doing any re-writing!

Carrie Lynn Lewis

I’ve never been a big fan of writing short stories. They’ve always seemed like “a good start on a novel-length story”.

But your outline for writing a short story has me rethinking that philosophy. I may just give it a try.

Thanks for a new idea on a Saturday morning!

DO IT! And let me know how it goes, Carrie. 🙂

Heidi Staseson

Agreed! ….on a Saturday afternoon! Fabulous tips to try. Thanks, Joe.

Short stories are an important marketing tool for all writers. And so is flash fiction. Lee Goldberg, creator/head writer for Monk and several other TV mystery series, writes short stories and novels using the Monk character. I hate the TV show Monk, but loved the short story Mr. Monk and The Seventeen Steps in the Dec 2010 Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. I plan to read some of novels. Lee Goldberg is an excellent writer. The stories and novels support the TV series and the TV series supports the short stories and novel.

If you plan to traditionally publish, published short stories can get you a better agent and open door that may otherwise stay shut.

If you plan to self-publish, free short stories using your characters can be a good way to turn non-fans in customers for your wears. Think on them as test for readers–but don’t think it while you are writing the story.

I play to use this strategy to publish my Old West book series.

Wow, this is a very creepy story, Tom! You should work on it!

Patrick WH Lee

Reading this post made me reflect on my own writing routine. I tend to do steps 1-5 in one sitting, pumping out ~2,500-3,500 words in an hour, which is usually all I have for a short story. It’s the editing that definitely takes up the most time. I give it a day before going back and seeing how I can optimize the plot and the finer details.

The number one motivating factor for me to finish writing is my initial interest and excitement of the original idea for the story itself. A wasted story is such a shame, after all.

Impressive Patrick. I could do Steps 1-3 in one sitting, but breaking it into scenes, and especially the research, take me a lot of time.

Scrivener is a great tool for breaking it into workable chances. My second most favorite thing about it!

Agreed Cynthia! Have you seen my review of it?

I had the exact same experience! I need to learn about the word count goals. My favorite feature is the ability to move scenes around and then read it as one long document without actually moving anything.

I am new at it, but look forward to learning more! Great review!


How to write short story? For me he only way is to order it on custom essay writing services reviews pa . To write something you need to be creative person, and it’s not about me 🙁

Love this post! Your first point, write the entire story, is great piece of advice. I say this all this time, “Write the story from beginning to end before doing any re-writing!”

Research being the #5 is great! I don’t find many other writer’s agreeing with on this. They will insist on doing the research upfront. I will see them a year later and ask how the project is going and the answer will be, “I’m still doing research.” I call it The Blackhole of Research and many writers get sucked it. I fell into it once myself when working on a play based on Shakespeare’s Sonnets. I got caught up it wanting to know if Shakespeare wrote the sonnets or not. I never wrote the play. The research thoroughly obscured what I believe would have been an interesting musical. For my series of novel set in the old west, I’m using a time line of events with scant details. I found I need this for the storytelling. But that is it.

I agree with you 100% about Scrivener. It has a bit of learning curve, but is worth it. I started to using it on my last story and now am using it to edit my novel. You can rearrange your scenes any way you want and then read is if it was a continuous document, but without changing the original order of scenes. Valuable in the editing process. It made me happy!

The Only Story They’ll Ever Read. This is excellent advice. It is where many talented writer’s fail.

How I Write Short Stories It takes me about 30 hours to do a draft of a story and then three times that to edit. If I have a real deadline (Not the self imposed kind) I can write it in 8 hours or less and edit it in 12.

I have learned that all I have to do is start writing and a story will emerge. Every time I do a writing prompt, I end up with a story. Every time I write for practice or to take a break from another project, I end up with a story. They are not always good.

Something unusual about me. I hate writing first drafts and love, love, love re-writing them.


How is that “unusual?” I know lots of people who enjoy rewriting over first drafts…? (There’s always someone who believes their “strange” in their habits. You must be from a small town or something lol

Collis Harris

Once again, Joe, you cut through all the garbage that’s usually out there about writing to make the process simple. I especially like the idea of doing research after fleshing out the story. I was doing research before starting and I drove myself into a sticky mess. Thank you for pointing out the obvious – even though it wasn’t obvious to me.

eric miller

I was alone, sitting next to a window on a commercial flight paid for by another who I was convinced cared little for my well being while offering an all expense paid year in a foreign land, no strings attached accept the one holding the sword of Damocles.


One thing I would add, and it’s the best practice I’ve picked up over the years, is to start with the ending. So for number #3, I would suggest come up with both the open and close and fill in the rest.

Jill Upshaw

Thank you so much for this post. It finally got me started on a short story I have been wanting to write for more than a year. Writing down the basic story helped me see the story first.

Kakeu Flora

Thank You… the guide is helpful. Our Lecturer gave an assignment she obliged that we must write a short story in our Journal but i think with your guide i’m going to make it great in the procedure of writing my short story…Thank Alot.

Rachel Myers

Thank you for this guide! My son is in eighth grade and assigned to write a short story in his honors English class. He’s very analytical and excelling in science and math. He does well in English but this short story has him flummoxed. He keeps saying he doesn’t know how to write a story, which is perplexing because throughout elementary school he wrote long, imaginative stories well above his grade level.

He desperately wants to write this short story but It’s as if his analytical mind has blocked access to his imagination and creativity. What served him well as a child has been squashed by puberty and the inevitable march to maturity. Oh, the sadness.

I just have a feeling though your guide will provide the structure he’s seeking and reopen the pathway to his creativity. It’s still there. We see it all the time. Your guide is organized around the process with time frames to boot! What more could an analytical mind want.


Thank you so much for this post. Sometimes the story gets lost while spending time researching. I always believed the story benefited from a little brewing time before taking on a life outside of my mind. I see now that I’ve been missing out on the valuable steps that can take place once the story is down and the transformation that can take place to form a short story. Your advice is elegant in it’s simplicity.

Szymon K. Paczkowski

Great post, but I have one question though to the numer 5.

What am I supposed to research? Research for what? I just don’t understand this.


To me you research for different things. Location and setting of the storiy, maybe it in La Havana, Cuba you should know they speak Spanish, they were in a economy regression so the building are not painted. Maybe one character has some type of illness (PTSD, Lupus, etc.) You would have to know how would that influence how they act, are perceive or look in a story. If he has PTSD he may have flashback’s, or deprecion, ect.

Maybe is a historical fiction you need to know how people acted in that time, what they wore, what was happening, etc.

It give you a better understanding of what is happening. So what you write is believed or make senses.

Jacqueline Kwan

Thanks for breaking this process down into simple steps! I naturally tend to sit down and spill out the whole story but often don’t know where to go from there. Your post gives me guidelines on how to approach the editing process that I know my work needs.

The best part is your distinction between “the story” and “the short story”. Knowing that makes it so much easier to write that first draft – without agonizing over a sloppy beginning or the overly vague details that require more research.

What a great way to get into your writing with the confidence that you’ll know how to make it better later!

Mwai Gichimu

Wow! You make it sound soo easy. Got a load of stories at different stages and feel I should try your steps.

Thanks, Mwai Gichimu

pat m

I didn’t realize until fairly recently that short stories were . . . well, so short. I typically write fanfiction that would be consider more of a novella at least 40,000 words. I actually don’t like reading short stories less than 7 chapters and/or 10,000 words. I don’t know I just like more meat on my books than the typical 7 chapter deal.

The Cyan-sinity

A Day in the Life of the Samurai.

It was an ordinary day — in the life of the samurai, that is. Samurai and heir to the Hagi residential, Kento Kadesheke, was engaged in a duel with his well recognized, self esteemed master.

“Dodge,” commanded his brain as he curled into a ball and escaped a fatal blow by what marked his people, the sword. Then he leapt up and swished his sword here and there, in defence. Next, he went all-out in a sword batting contest with his master. This gave his time to regain his breath. Now, as many know, the more experienced mostly comes on top, so was the case here. Tired and impatient, Kento tried to disarm his master and opponent. His master expected it and dodged it, not so long before launching a barrage of sword hits, disarming Kento.

Per the rules, disarms end battles, so Kento bowed and fetched his sword. He asked “What did I do wrong, milord,” His master smiled and gently said ” Nothing but thou were a bit impatient,” he added “I can see quick and great improvement,” Now all of this was said in Japanese, but I daren’t mention in imagined sesquipedalophobia

Jolyon Sykes

The importance of step six cannot be overstated. I think a second pair of eyes is essential for editing. For example, this non-sentence is from Joe’s promo for his book: “Even more importantly, to practice deliberately have to put your writing skills to the test.” See what I mean?


“Run Isola!”

Isola’s mother yelled over the wind. Isola’s heart was pounding, and she felt as if she might faint. Her brown hair whipped fast, stinging her face. Her mother was rushing her into the safe house. They prepared it a month before when they heard about the Vortex Storm. The name was fitting because there was a big whirl of dark, ravenous clouds. They seemed to eat the whole sky.

“Where is Will and Dad?” Isola asked. “I thought they were coming with us!”

“I am going to get them,” Isola’s mother answered. “Just go and get there before you get hurt!”

She turned and went back to the house while Gloria went toward the safe house.

The wind was so strong, Isola felt as if it would lift her and pick her off her feet. Debris flew everywhere. Other people in her neighborhood were gathering belongings, children, pets, and driving away to the community safe house. Isola was tempted to follow them.

Isola finally made it to the safe house. Its interior was located underground and the door were made of steel. Underground Isola knew there were also steel bars to support the roof the steel ceiling. The lock on the door was located inside. Her father was a construction worker so getting the materials to build it was easy. Isola’s mind flashed back to the time her father stayed up for weeks at a time making sure everything was secure. When she asked if she could help or see what he was working on, he simply told her that it wasn’t time yet. Whatever that meant.

Isola began to open the door, when she heard familiar voices behind her.

“Isola! Watch out!”

Relief comforted her heart for a moment. It was Will’s voice, and he was okay. He’s head popped out around the corner. His brown curly hair waving on his face in the harsh wind. But, that relief was replaced with panic when she saw a big massive tree branch about to fall. On her.

Maybe it wasn’t a good idea to build a safe house by a tree Isola thought. Maybe it wasn’t a good idea to build a safe house, period.

That was all Isola had time to think about before the tree branch fell, and she was forced back by some invisible force. It felt like a hand grabbing her. She stumbled backwards and bumped into something.

Or someone.

“Isola, what are you crazy? You just stand there watching it fall on you, and do absolutely nothing while the branch almost crushes you!”

She turned around to the look to who was speaking to her. And a concerned, upset, face was peering down back at her. Her father. Despite her father scolding at her, she was relieved to see he was okay. Her mother came running in after them.

“Are you okay? What happened?” She turned to Isola’s father. “Mark.”

Mark put a hand on his wife’s arm. “Anna, she’s fine” He started toward the safe house again. “Let’s just hurry and all go inside-” Mark stopped.

“What? What is it?”

Isola followed to where he was staring. The tree branch was on top of the safe house. Blocking the only entrance inside.

Mark shook his head. Swore a few latin words. Anna shot daggers at him covering Will’s ears.

Will looked to me with eyes of confusion. I shrugged.

“Why are we going in here? Why don’t we go in with the other kids and adults?” Will asked.

Will spoke with an accent that his mom said came from his father. When he said ‘adults’ he pronounced it adoolts He pulled his mother’s hands off his ears.

“Will-” His father said will a warning tone in his voice.

“There is a branch on blocking the door. Besides, everybody else is going!” Will argued.

“They don’t want to go to the Community safe house, Will.” Isola told him.

“But, all my friends are there! I wanna go too!” Will whined.

“We have a safe house right here.” Anna said ignoring Will.

Isola made a motion to the safe house which was still stable, but had an impossible entrance. She opened her mouth to say something sarcastic but her mother must of saw the expression on her face because she held up her hand.

“That is enough Isola.” Her mother yelled over the wind. “You have been complaining about this the whole time, and show no appreciation for what your father is doing for you-”

“Dad what are you doing?” Will interrupted.

Gloria and her mom turned around to see what Will was talking about. Mark was pushing the branch-or at least trying to-off the entrance. Anna looked to Will and Isola.

“Come on, don’t just stand there, go help out your father!”

They didn’t need to be asked twice. They all went over and helped Mark push the branch. They pushed, pulled, lifted, but the branch didn’t move more than a couple of inches. But, even by then they were all tired and each second they stayed outside was each second to their death.

Mark reached through one of the openings of the branch and opened the door. “Will or Gloria, one of you can fit in here. Try to go through.”

Will crosses his arms. “No way! I want to go to the Community safe house. Besides you guys could lock us in there and go without us so you can go have fun.” Will stared at his mom and dad with accusing eyes. He had his jaw set in way that showed he wasn’t going to budge.

“Will” His father said angrily.

Isola started toward the entrance. “I’ll go, if you won’t go. Let’s just get in before we get hit by one of those meteorites.” She pointed to the sky. It was darker now blocking out so much sun, the light detectors triggered on the street lights for night time.

Isola started in, going feet first, having a little of a hard time getting in. When she felt her feet touch the ground she called up.

“Okay I’m in!”

There was no response. She looked up to see if anyone was looking in but she saw no one there.

“Mom? Dad?”

She heard something up there that sound like arguing, then panic, and then a moment of silence.

“Isola, are okay down there?” Her mom asked.

“Yeah, what are you guys waiting for?”

“We are going to the Community shelter.”

Isola didn’t know whether to laugh or scream.

“Isola, don’t worry you can wait down there-”

“Wait here? No!” Isola said shaking her head. “Bring me up with you guys.”

“The branch is stuck here, and plus we are running out of time, we are going to see if we can make it-”

Isola heard her father’s voice in the background. She only caught a few words and sentences like: ‘he said’ and ‘not good idea’ and ‘listen’

“I don’t care about what Jem thinks, we are leaving.” Isola heard her mom say.

And the door shut.

Isola heard screams outside. She heard some of Will’s screams, mixed with her mother’s, and other screams of children, frightened animals, and other people. She didn’t want to think about going out there. She knew she couldn’t. So, when the door shut Isola locked the door and went to the furthest corner of the room.

There were blankets, food, water, first aid items, and a radio there. The food and water was packed into four different black book bags. Looking at them made her feel anxious and worried. They’ll be okay. Everything is fine. She thought. When she still didn’t feel any better, she said out loud, “It’s okay. Everything is fine.” Even she knew the words sounded empty and unconvincing.

She wasn’t hungry at the moment. Fatigue washed over Isola so suddenly, that she felt dizzy. Grabbing her blanket from the corner she moved the rest of the items by the door. After, she walked to the corner, sat putting her knees up to her chin, and wrapped the blanket around herself, over her head and ears. She tried to huddle as far as she could into the corner. She wanted to be as far away from the screams as possible. Isola shivered. Though it wasn’t against the cold.

( For more or the rest of the story email me at [email protected] ) 🙂 Tell what you think.

B. Cole

This has been incrediably helpful! Making myself put off researching wasn’t something I would have thought would make a big difference but it really has.


I might be a bit late to the party…my 15 mins.

———- Hugh set the knife against his knee and started sawing through the skin.

As the pain coursed through his nerves, he lost his grip. “Damn bugs,” he hissed as his fingers failed to listen to his brain.

Laying his head against the cold metal of the bathtub, Hugh swore he could feel the lowjack implant in his spinal cord thrumming. A few moments later, the door opened on rusty hinges, allowing the light from the rest of the apartment in.

A falsetto voice spoke from the doorway. “Human, you have sustained an injury to your right knee. Medical personnel have been summoned.”

Hugh turned suddenly, knocking the knife to the floor. “Don’t you dare let those butchers in here!” Sitting up, he started to sob. “I’ve got nothing left for them to take.”

A six foot tall mechanical figure strode calmly into the room. “Human, I’m going to freeze you until the medical personnel arrive.” A green light started blinking in its eye socket. “Do not be alarmed, it is for your own safety.”

Hugh was half way out of the bathtub before the lowjack cut off any control he had over his body.

The android moved to the tub, and gingerly picked Hugh up, moving him through the spacious apartment to a chair by the front door.

“I will be in stasis until they arrive,” the android stated.

Hugh couldn’t detect any difference from a few moments ago. The android stood stone still, the only difference an irregular pattern to the blinking green light.

Waiting a full minute to ensure the thing wasn’t aware, Hugh tried moving his hand. The fingers twitched.

Kav M

i have a short story , would it be too late to post here , i need some opinion

Pamela Gregson

I opened my eyes to see a dark shadow in my bedroom, it looked like a figure of a man. I had been thinking a lot about my uncle Herbert who had died in the first world war ,l was stunned! Could he be the person on my bed? To stunned to talk to him l recalled speaking to a medium early on in the day about Herbert he came through and said he wondered what his life would have been like if he had lived he died aged 26 . I looked more closely at this figure on my bed then he said come on Pam get up!! We’re on holiday now!!! Pew!!!


Thanks for the great advice Joe Bunting. What I read, helps me know what’s ahead of me to be a writer. I love how you explained about it being hard to finish a story, when you are in the middle of the story. As to rowing a boat to an island. I’ve started stories, got to the middle and didn’t know where to go. Now I know that’s common to happen. I’ll close at this point and get started writing something that I wrote in High School that others loved. Thanks again for inspiring me with what you wrote.

Rick Olmsted


Nice blog here. I think this would be more helpful in my writing career. But if you really need a professional to write a children short story for you, I would recommend a gig I use on Fiverr


This is a great intro in short story writing! Usually the only writing I do is assignments and essays. I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a story for a while and this post provided great motivation. So here it is.. my first 15 minute attempt at putting ideas down in words.

The time had come to meet face to face with her biggest rival. She had never met her before but the stories were enough for her to realise the threat that she posed. The environment wasn’t one which forged the women together, to bond. It promoted rivalry. Only the fittest would survive the night and walk away with cash in the hand. Tonight was the same as every other night. It started out with the usual routine. She would meticulously apply her make up to accentuate her pale blue eyes. Her greatest asset, or at least that’s what they told her. The blackness of the eyeliner was unforgiving; no amount of it could cover up the turbulent storm brewing in her blue eyes. Her reflection showed no hint of the emotions she was trying to deny. Her hair was down around her shoulders, glistening from the heat in the room. The air was muggy despite it being a cool night. She looked around the room wondering how her life had brought her to be here in this moment. The walls were as red as bitten lips, that’s what they reminded her of. The other girls were getting impatient that she had taken so much time in the one mirror, which covered the wall above the alcove. There was barely enough room for all four of them to get ready in there. Bags of make up, shoes and dresses, if you could call them that, were scattered at their feet. The buzz of the dryer in the adjoining room reminded her that there was work to be done. Fresh sheets and towels needed to be put out in the rooms before the men arrived. This job gave her a reprieve from being in that suffocating red room. She left the girls to decide on the dresses they would wear tonight.


I was fine, good in fact, realizing that I was stuck in a rut of step 1, Telling my stories. I can do step two, even three. Now I’m lost at step four: I’m writing a short story, not a novel. I’m stopping here; lost my interest, for the moment.

Christina Thompson

Tara is unhappy with her life. She always has been. No one ever understood why. Tara comes from a great home, with a great family; yet she always seemed to be downtrodden and meloncholic. At 21 Tara isn’t even doing things that her peers enjoy. This should be the time in her life where fun, adventure and discovery are a must. Tara doesn’t follow crowds, has no real friends to speak of and is always quiet; except if called on in a class setting. John and lydia French, tara’s parents have sought help for her from many professionals, and none have been able to point out a diagnoses to fit tara’s personality flaws. There was a time once when tara was younger perhaps four or five when she was at summer camp. She showed light in her eye and a possibility of hope glimmered that maybe she had found her niche. The latter part of that camping trip showed the worst side of tara yet. It seemed she regressed even more than when she arrived. Fisher is a guy who grew up with tara and has know her and her family for many years. He has concocted this plan to attempt to court tara with these simple steps that he has been putting together to turn who he sees as the love of his life into a more loving and joyful human being. The first step was to be seen accidently by tara at more than one occation during her day. Of course it’s not accidental, he’s planned the whole thing, but in fisher’s mind maybe tara never got the attention she needed. On Saturdays tara frequents the same internet cafe near her University, then she goes running at a nearby park, following this she heads back to campus. Fisher was sure to be seen by tara in all but the last place her home, so as not to seem to creepy. He pb believes he may have saw tara grin or smirk once or maybe, he just wants to make her happy so badly that he imagined it. He did this for three saturdays, then finally askds tara to the movies. To his surprise tara says yes. Fisher is ecstatic. They schedule their date for the following week. Fisher picked tara up on time from her dorm and they stap for a street car meal before heading to the movies. He excorts her home and when he reaches in for a kiss tara scream can be heard throughout the city. Campus security arrives and tara is take


Sarah was shaking over the little table staring at her coffee. Her eyes looked as black s the liquid in the cup. She couldn’t speak, it was too much for her at the moment. Besides apart of maybe weak squick nothing else would come out from her mouth. She was so scared to go back home but she couldn’t stay in this coffee shop forever. Sarah didn’t have any idea what to do. She quit her job without finding the new one, all of her savings were gone already so she couldn’t really afford to move right now. But she also couldn’t face her landlord from hell and his crazy family. It was like the worst nightmare.

Sarah moved in to this house thinking it’s going to be a lovely place to live. She would share it with two friends and probably rent the third bedroom to another familiar face. At least that was the plan. The landlord was white with black hair and spoke good English. She assumed he was an English man. After seeing the place with her two mates they made the decision instantly. Paid cash for deposit to black haired man and received the keys. When asked for receipt he said he will provide it next time as he had no receipt book on him. Fair enough.

A few days later Sarah, Daniel and Becky lived together in the lovely semi-detached house with good sized garden. The trio opened some beers and decided to celebrate their new nest completely unaware of what is yet to come…


love your book! Keep on the good job

“Do you think Petraeus will like the red hood, or the blue hood?” Charlene aksed her brother, “or is the yellow one better? Hmm… the orange one is also very appealing. What do you think, Eustace?”

“I think you should just take one and go see him before it gets late, sister.” He sighed, annoyed.

The tall brunnette, turned around to face her brother. Why was she even asking him that kind of stuff anyway? He’s a boy, he wouldn’t care one bit. “If you are going to be such a ogre, why should I even ask?”

“I wish I could understand that too, you know.” he said, preparing himself for the trip. Lifting his simple dark brown hood from the floor, he sat down to fix his boots. “But I personally think I am not the best person to help you change the color of a piece of cloth, Charlene. It’s just a piece of cloth, you do not have to make such a big deal about it.”

She groaned angrily, while taking the red one.”I do not understand what is your probllem, really.”

“Guess what? Me neither.” he laughed as he ran through the door. Eustace could hear the angry blabbing of her sister, but decided to ignore.


Natalie Jenkins

Wanted Child (FULL VERSION)

The siren’s screaming to the neighbors, waking them from their peaceful slumber. The red and blue lights blinding everyone who looks in its way. A little girl, not later of the age of 9, being carried out of a home in the arms of a police officer. Her crying silencing everything else to the man’s ears. The child clutching onto his navy-blue shirt, begging for the awful image out of her head. He looks at the girl in pain, wishing for a miracle to break through. He sighs and looks forward, his face a mask of pain. He looks around and spots a woman with her back turned to her, talking to one of the girl’s neighbors. He approaches her and acknowledges her. “Corrine,” he started. The woman turns around and lightly nods. “Chief Jacob Ray.” She states, concern written in her strained voice. She is a lawyer working on a case where she is defending a man who was framed for the murder of his brother. She might have been yelling at a court trial. She spoke, “What do you need? Poor child. She didn’t deserve to witness that.” She is right. She never deserved to witness such a horrible thing. “I need a blanket for her. And, also, give her water.” He looks down at her to see her asleep. He sighs and looks back at the woman. “She will stay with me until we find her a home.” She slightly widened her eyes, looking at Jacob confusedly. She replied, “Are you sure you can take care of a child? Jacob, you don’t have anyone else to help take care of this girl.”

She stopped when she heard the girl sighing. She looked at her with both pain and hope for her. Jacob also had hope. Hope that her life was going to change for the better and not for the worse. “I’ll go get the blanket and water.” He heard Corrine say. He didn’t acknowledge her, to let her know that he heard her. She sighed in content and walked away, yelling for a blanket and water. He looked down at her. Her blue eyes fluttered open, looking around. She looked up at him and smiled. She let go of her shirt and hugged him. His eyes widened slightly as she hugged him. His eyes slowly went back down as she started crying. He started shushing her, whispering that it is all over. That she doesn’t have to worry anymore. He was going to make sure of it. He was going to be on a hiatus to take care of her. A few moments later he hears a distant voice saying, “Here we go dear.” Corrine’s voice makes the girl look up. She sniffs and wipes her eyes, muttering a quick thank you while doing so. Corrine looks at the poor girl in despair and calmly says, “Drink. You must be thirsty.” Corrine holds a glass up, showing her that she has something for her to drink. The little girl nods, agreeing with the woman. Corrine gives the glass to her, holding it to her lips. The little girl drinks happily, sighing in content with the refreshing feeling, soothing her parched throat. Jacob asks, “So, what’s your name?” The girl stops drinking and looks at the man. She replies, “Elly, but my real name is Elizabeth. My parents used to call me “Elly”, but after their.” She stops, closing her eyes

This is all I have and I am writing 2 different versions. One is for a short story contest and one is for publishing (which is this one)

George McNeese

I love writing short stories. I believe what turns me on to the format is the fact that it makes for quick reading. At the same time, you can get so much out of it like you would a novel.

I do think I’ve been writing short stories the wrong way. It takes me a couple of weeks to get a story down. Most of it is due to time constraints. But I have tools to lessen that time. And I’m so worried about getting it right the first time that I miss the point of the process. It takes diligence and patience to write a great story.

I will take these tips to heart and work as hard as I can to write the best stories possible.

Shauna Bolton

This story is about Rafa, a five-year-old boy born during the final years of Israel’s wandering in the wilderness. His father, Duriel, is a Levite who serves the tabernacle. His mother, Ronit, has just died. His older sister, Miriam, is ten years old.

Duriel is a bitter, heartbroken man. His wife is dead. His firstborn is a girl, and his only son will never be a man, have a family, or serve the tabernacle. There will be no one to continue his lineage. He feels that God has ruined his life, and it angers him. He is often critical, unkind, and angry at home, especially with his young daughter, who is desperately and imperfectly performing her dead mother’s duties: cooking food, caring for the household, and tending Rafa.

Rafa has Down’s Syndrome. He doesn’t understand death and believes his mother has abandoned him. He thinks she’s hiding somewhere in the camp. He keeps running off to find her, which causes stress and anger for his family and his Levite relatives.

Miriam cooks the meals, cares for the household, and tends Rafa while her father is at the tabernacle. Miriam is also learning to spin and weave. Her grandmother, a former slave in Egypt, is a master weaver. She is going blind and feels a desperate urgency to teach her granddaughter everything she can before she can no longer see. Miriam is caught between her grandmother’s insistence that she spend her time weaving and keeping track of Rafa. Her friends complain that she’s always working and never has time for fun.

One night, after Duriel has lost his temper and spanked Rafa, Miriam comforts him in bed. She tells him that their mother lives with Adonai. Rafa’s father has impressed both his children that Adonai lives in the tabernacle, the place where Moses speaks with Adonai. Miriam falls asleep, but Rafa doesn’t. He now knows where his mother is, and he leaves the house to find her.

Rafa wanders through the camp, unsure of where to go. When he sees torchlight, he follows it to the tabernacle. The guards are not at the door. Rafa parts the curtains and looks inside. A man’s voice tells him to come in. When he enters the Holy of Holies, he sees a shining man, Adonai, sitting on the ark. The man holds out his arms, and Rafa comes running to him. The man puts Rafa on his lap and asks what he wants. Rafa says he wants his mother.

The man calls Ronit. She appears in a pillar of light. Laughing and crying for joy, she gathers Rafa into her arms, carries back into the light, and they both disappear.

Adonai summons Moses and Duriel. They both come to the tabernacle. Moses enters; Duriel stands outside the door. Adonai tells Moses how to handle the situation. Duriel is not to be punished because Rafa entered the tabernacle. Instead, Duriel is to be relieved of his work for one year to spend the time mourning for his wife and son, caring for his mother, and comforting his daughter, Miriam. If he humbles himself sufficiently, Adonai will receive his service again, give him a woman to love, and more children, including sons to carry on his family line.

When Moses comes out of the tabernacle, he carries Rafa’s body wrapped in a new woolen blanket. Duriel recognizes the blanket as something his wife was making when she died. It had lain unfinished in their tent since her death. He examines it. The blanket is now completely finished. Taking his son’s body in his arms, Duriel falls to his knees sobbing. Moses lays his hands on Duriel’s head and begins blessing him.

Pippy Longstocking

Suddenly, there was a strange noise outside. Clare tiptoed across the creaky floor. She looked from behind the curtains. Strange shadows lurked from the misty town. They were unlike anything she’s ever seen before. As tall as a telephone booth but the limbs were strange… the legs were lean while the arms were strong. Clare lit a torch and went downstairs to investigate. The door slowly creaked open and into the ghostly streets she went.

There was suddenly a crack of lightning, and behind her, were the shadows. She ran as fast as her little legs could carry her but they were fast. She jumped into a nearby bush and waited. She saw the go into a tree. She decided to follow along. Pure curiosity powered her.

“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh!….” She whispered screamed as she fell down a big hole.

She saw some vines in front of her. Her heart was racing. What was she going to see, a mystical land, an evil lair or the centre of the earth? She pushed aside the vines and thoughts and gaped at what she saw. Everything was unspeakable, she had to get out of this nightmare. Left was right, up was down, good was bad. She couldn’t breathe. Where was the exit? What is this place? Why did the men go here? Why? Why? Why?! She was trapped in her own thoughts and in the world.

She woke up. “It was too real..” She muttered.

Clare opened the curtains and screamed. Her heart was thumping hard and her brain was numb. Her eyes were frozen. Little did she know that this was just the beginning of mass terror and horror. Would she live or would she die? That is the question that remains unanswered…

Pippy Longstocking

Ignore this


The first time I noticed her was a rainy day. She was sitting in a chair and talked to herself. I was so curious about her who behaved strangely. I thought she was a weird person, but I wanna know her stories. I was sure she had a story, at least one. I said” Hi, you are beautiful.” She answered” My mom always says that, but she is gone.” “Where is she?” She said with a sweet smile” She is there. ” She pointed to her heart with small and thin hands.”In my heart and my dream.”

In a moment, I remembered that I was so jealous when I saw my friends and their mom hold hands. I understood this girl who missed her mom. But I thought her mom had a good reason to leave. We all have a reason when we make a choice. Sometimes we think only for ourselves. Sometimes we choose to sacrifice for love. Sometimes we are selfish. But no matter what decisions we have made, we still have hope and belief, and we have to.

I told the girl” Your mom lives happily. Your mom loves you.” She said” I always know that, but when will she be bak to see me ? I only wanna see her.” I said” She is already on her way to look for. She needs time.” The girl smiled like an angel.

But I lied to her, I have to.

Lusapho Nyangule

She sought refuge in all except what she knew she could possibly thrive at. The fears, the shaky voice, the anger in her eyes and the misery in her soul. Nothing could begin to explain to the world how tortured and jaded her spirit had become. She never asked for this and loathed those who felt she could learn to live life differently.

How does one learn to live life? Is it in the way we were raised? Is it the choices we make? Is it how we perceive things? She was not raised like this. No one would make choices to feel like this and perception is reality, no? If her scars were on the outside instead of on the inside, she would be immediately raced to a hospital. The room would fill with doctors and nurses scurrying to make her lively. But the scars remained on the inside so the world did not see the wounds. The pain remained unseen and the rush for help was nowhere to be found.

Dying was the answer. Of course! She’d read the bubbly bullshit quotes about death being a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Who is to say it’s temporary? Cancer may be temporary. A patient may go into remission but no one judges them for feeling like death may be a better way. Why would she be judged? Demons are revolting things to handle and some, like the girl, simply cannot handle them alone. Would one allow their child to be tormented by another person, or would they help them? Why didn’t they help her? Why were her bullies not confronted?


This was a short short story I wrote that was submitted for a contest. It had to be 150 or less….

She could not explain the feeling she got when she saw him, and he touched her. Every time she tried, the words would just fall out in random order.

One day as they were laying on a blanket watching the drifting clouds, she looked at him and whispered, “I love you.” As he smiled he said, “I know you do,” his hand gripping hers tighter. “No, I mean I really love you. Do you remember when you were a kid and you would swing? The feeling you got in your tummy the higher you went,if there were a million pterodactyl-sized butterflies in there?” He rolled to his side and said, “Yes, that was the best feeling as a kid.” She smiled and said, “That’s the way I feel about you.” He reached over and sighed as he placed his lips to her forehead and whispered, “I love you.”


Short stories, to me, are the perfect literary form. The most amazing way to get across complex and critical concepts without bogging stories down with unnecessary melodrama. I’m actually looking at putting together an anthology-type short story periodical in the next few months. Anyone who’d be interested in being printed, maybe, shoot me a message nmoo651 (at) aucklanduni (dot) ac (dot) nz


It’s a dark night, unknown figure runs across the cold wet streets, flooded by intense rain. There’s a curfew, and this character is breaking it. Running across the stone alleyways and switching corners so swiftly is easy to mistake them for a shadow. Look. An officer. The figure expertly knocks them out by hitting when they are not looking, then hides the body Faster now, the hooded figure is speeding in the darkness, remember why they’re here. They have to escort a parcel across the country in a relay manner, and the figure is an amateur, and want to succeed they’re first true test. Everything’s going fine currently Until they slip. Makes a clanky noise as they fall and attracts numerous guards to their location, but before they can reach, hides in a crate. That was close. But his leg is hurt after the fall, and he is know limping, still needing to deliver his package to the other side of this county. Behind them by a couple 100 meters, a man of somewhat authority walks past. in his hand, a revolver. He enters the area where the figure knocked out an officer and hid him, and easily finds where the figure hid him, as he has dealt with his kind before. The figure creeps into an empty restaurant, where the server greets him happily. The figure asks for a map of this county, something they should have probably had earlier, but hey! They’re an amateur. The server in exchange asks for the figure’s name, to which they respond ‘Max’ after glancing at a Maximum Voltage sign. Max escapes by climbing onto the roof via ladder inside. authority guy returns, and hears Max above, and shoots server (NOO), and climbs up. He shoots max, and max almost falls off the tall building, saved by grabbing onto a gutter flowing with water. AG (authority guy) points gun “give me the parcel” Max puts it slowly into the gutter he’s holding on, and it drifts off. AG makes a break for it, trying to get the parcel before it falls, while max jumps off, landing on another ladder outside an adjacent building. When Ag opens the Parcel, he finds nothing (Ha ha!). Max continues to Victory! –Just a draft, and I apologize for any grammar mistakes.–

Notion Press

I found your “How to Write a Short Story from Start to Finish”, very useful. I represent a self-publishing company, Notion press and this information means a lot to our network of writers, to whom we will be sharing it. We also have similar useful content on our academy page. Please feel free to check out and get in touch with us.


A fish fought so hard not to know me. I fought harder to know him. We spent hours at our contest. When exhaustion had taken us both, we acquiesced. As he boarded the boat it was apparent his bravery and powerful fight was over and all I had to do was claim victory.

It was a victory that was sour to me. Something inside of my old self changed with meeting this fish. I loved that fish and our fight, it was just what I wanted. What was unexpected was the emotion of caring that poured out afterwards. I lack the skill of caring, not having any experience in how to care or being cared for will do that to a man. Hard life living without those things.

I held him gently in the water for what seemed like eternity, he got his strength back, thrashed and swam away.

goodby and hello, I said.


You have a great idea here, I think you can extend this idea into a short story. I like your style of writing, easy to understand.

Alexandria Kellogg

This is rough idea I’ve been playing around with. Let me know what you think I can do to make it better. Thanks.

Ariala was led into the throne room of her own castle to face the man who had just taken over. He was a tall, broad-shouldered man in heavy metal armor. His long blonde hair was left to hang loosely around his body and his eyes were so dark that they seemed black to her.

“Hello Princess, we meet again.”

“I’d say it’s a pleasure to see you again Prince Demitri, but I was taught not to lie.”

“Charming as ever I see. Not to worry…I’ll change that little attitude of yours soon enough. For now…there’s something I want you to watch.”

Ariala watched as her father, the true King, was dragged into the room. He looked so battered and it broke her heart to see her father’s strength reduced to this. He had bruises covering his face and she was fairly certain one of his arms was broken.

“Why are you doing this? We have never done anything against your family or your kingdom…”

“You have not…true…but your father here has angered me greatly by denying me the one thing I wanted from him.”

“What might that be?”

“You, dear Ariala. I requested your hand in marriage…he refused.”

“So you decide that taking over my home is somehow going to make me want to marry you?”

“It doesn’t matter if you want it or not…I will marry you and you will do as you are told or suffer the consequences.”

“I will most certainly not be marrying you and nothing you can do to me will change my mind.”

“I was afraid you might be this way. Men…”

The soldiers holding her father up dropped him to the floor and pulled their swords, and she watched in horror as they ran their swords through her father’s body. As they pulled back she tried to go to his side but Demitri grabbed her by the waist and pulled her against his body causing her to lash out at him, kicking and hitting any part of him she could reach. He raised a hand to cradle the back of her neck and began squeezing gently, applying more and more pressure until she lost enough air to blackout. He handed her limp body to one of the castle’s royal guards.

“Take her to her chambers for now. Perhaps when she wakes she will be less unpleasent.”

The guard carried her to her bed and was soon joined by his Captain. “We need to get her out of here before it’s too late, Sir.”

“I know, and I have a plan for that. Do you remember John?”

“He’s the one that was always by her side when they were kids right?”

“Aye, that’s him.”

“What about him?”

“He’s the leader of a small band of mercenaries now…and they happen to be in the city below us right now.”

“You’re going to hire them to get her out of here?”

“No…I’m going to tell him that she’s in danger and I need him to help me get her away from this place as soon as possible. In the meantime…guard her door and let no one enter this room.”

“I will protect her, Sir…with my life is I must.”

“I’d rather it not come to that. I will be back as quickly as I can…hopefully with a plan.”

The Captain had faithfully served the Sky Kingdom’s royal family since he was a boy. His father had been the Captain of the Royal Guard at that time and he frequently followed the man to learn all he could from him…now his King was dead and his Princess was in danger. He kept the hood of his cloak up over his face as he slipped into the Queen’s Garden to meet with a man he never actually thought he’d see again.

“Why would the Captain of the Royal Guard want to meet with me in the middle of the night?”

He froze in mid-step as a soft baritone voice sounded out of the darkness, carefully lowering his hood to reveal his heavily greying hair. “Hello again, John. You seem to have done quite well for yourself, being the leader of a mercenary band now.”

“No thanks to you, of course…convincing the King to ship me off to be a squire to some low-level knight…that wasn’t very nice of you.” The man slid out of the shadows like he was a part of them. His jet black hair fell in a soft curtain to his shoulders while his bright blue eyes seemed to pierce the Captain like a spear.

“You were gettig too close to her. We couldn’t risk having her fall in love with someone of such low birth.”

“You mean because I was born a bastard right? What exactly do you want from me?”

“The Princess is in grave danger…and I am hoping you still care enough to help her.”

The man’s gaze sharpens at those words and his voice takes on a darker edge. “What kid of danger?”

“Sky Castle has been overtaken and the King has been killed…in front of her. The man responsible wants to force her to marry him to cement his new role here but she is defiant and I fear he will hurt herto get what he wants. I can get her out of the castle through one of the secret passages…but I cannot get her off the plateau without being caught. I am too well-known here.”

“If you can get her to the Royal Stable at midnight…my men and I can take care of her from that point.”

“Take her to Obsidian Castle in the North. Our allies there will help her.”

“I will take care of her, you have my word…whatever that’s worth to you.”

“When it comes to her…I know I can trust you to keep her safe. I will have her in the stable at midnight, her personal gryphon doesn’t have wings but it will follow her wherever she goes.”

“Wait…she still has that little guy? The blue panther with the bright little tail?”

“He’s not so little anymore…he’s quite large actually, and that tail is a thing of beauty. He’s one of the rare type that have no wings but he’s as loyal as they come…at least to her.”

“Good, she’ll need all the protection she can get. I will see you at midnight…stay safe Captain.”

“You as well, John.”

Later that night four men in dark cloaks were lurking in the shadows behind the Royal Stables, though one of them was clearly unable to remain still for long as the curly blonde begand shifting restlessly from one foot to the other. “Why are we hanging around here at this time of night anyway? This is boring.”

“I told you already. We’re here to help my childhood best friend escape from danger.”

“Right…but who is he?”

“You’ll see soon enough now stay still.”

“Gentlemen, good to see you made it here safely.”

“Same to you, Captain.”

“Wait…the Captain of the Royal Guard? HE’s your friend?”

“Of course not…don’t be ridiculous. The two of us can barely tolerate each other.”

“Wait…then who…?”


“Hello again, Princess. Miss me?”

“John!” Ariala ran into the waiting arms of her friend, wrapping her arms around him and crying softly. “Why did you leave me?”

The dark haired man glared at the Captain before responding to her. “I was sent away little one…they wouldn’t let me go say goodbye to you. I thought they would tell you but it seems I was mistaken.”

“Captain? Is that true?”

“Yes, Princess…I’m afraid so.”


“You were getting too close…you father worried that you two would fall in love.”

Ariala took in a deep breath as she turned to face the Captain, planning to give him a piece of her mind, but the darker man placed a hand over her mouth with an amused smirk. “As much as I’d love to watch you verbally berate the man…I’m afraid we haven’t got the time right now. We have to get you out of here before they realize you’re gone.”

“I assume you have a plan already?”

“Of course…but first…” He snapped his fingers and her bright blue gryphon came out of his hiding spot, his tail fanning out in his happiness at seeing his favorite human. The princess wrapped her arms around the it’s neck and then laughed happily as John lifted her up onto it’s back. “You do realize I can do that on my own right?”

“I know…but it gave me an excuse to hold you for a moment.”

“You’ve never needed an excuse for that before, John.”

“Uh…John, perhaps we should get moving now?”

“Right you are my friend. Everyone mount up so we can get down the side of this plateau and down into the forest.”

The four men mounted their own gryphons. John had a hawk and panther gryphon, the curly blonde had a cheetah based gryphon, the auburn haired man ahd a lion and eagle gryphon, while the last man had a massive tiger based gryphon to bear his muscular body. Once they were all mounted they urged their gryphons over the stone wall around the castle grounds and began searching for the least treacherous path down the side of the plateau without going near the main road that led away from the castle. They ended up by the edge of the upper part of Queen’s Lake near the top of the waterfall that fell into the lower lake. “We’ll have to make our way down from here.”

“Can’t we just fly down?” The antsy blonde was, well, still antsy. The princess watched the man fidget every few minutes and constantly shift position. He reminded her of some of the village children withhow they had too much energyu to remain still for very long…most adult grew out of that but this one clearly hadn’t done so.

“We could…if we want to risk our gryphons breaking a wing trying to maneuver the dense branches with us on their backs.”

“Which we don’t…so we have to let them climb down this way.”

“Correct. You alright little one?”

“I’m fine…not the first time we’ve come down this way…remember?”

“How could I forget? You shoved me over the edge of the falls.”

“You were being a jerk…you deserved it.”

“I did…but it was still cold that day.”

“You lived.”

The other men all seemed to be amused at hearing about their leader’s childhood with her so she decided that she would share more stories once they were out of the danger zone. “I’ll tell you boys some more embarassing stories later.”

“You will not.”

“I will too…and you can’t stop me…you never could.”

“I’m a lot stronger now little one.”

“I can see that.”

The way her eyes roamed his figure left him feeling like she could see right through him and he heard more than one of his men snort softly in amusement as his face turned red. The princess gave them all a saucy little grin before mounting her gryphon.

That’s as far as I’ve gotten on it so far. Let me know what you think.

Mari Hill

I have written short stories that I’ve worked on or kept in my keep file for up to 2 years. I didn’t know how to write a short story, but kept trying now I don’t think I could write another 300 page novel again if my life depended on it. However, I find my new love (Short Stories) thriller, horror difficult to sell to magazines or enter in competitions…I’m obsessed and won’t stop writing them!!!! Anyone know more about this Kindle Short Story Section?


I’ve been challenged (by a writing instructor) to write a short story of about 500 words or one full page. This seems a bit constraining to me, but I’d welcome any tips.

Morgan’s Fiasco

Our dinky rented room on the edge of Ohio U’s campus was really the basement level of an old frame house built into the side of a hill. Gabe, the rather eccentric old lady who owned the place lived above us in the rest of the house. We had our own entrance, so whatever went on in there was pretty much up to my roommate, Morgan, and me. One evening in the semi darkness of our room, I was trying to study by the dim light of a gooseneck lamp over our ancient second hand desk. George Shearing was issuing forth some soothing sounds on our 45 record player. Suddenly, Morgan, lying across the bottom bed of our double bunks, suddenly broke the silence by blurting out of nowhere, “We can fix that!” My muttered and obviously disinterested response was, “Hunh?” His convoluted answer increased in volume and conviction as he addressed the fact that our ceiling was made up of old, gray, tongue and grove wood slats. It was similar to many old porches built in the 1930’s, and was, indeed, rather ugly for a bedroom. His brilliant inspiration was that we could make up a huge batch of paper mache from strips of torn newspaper soaked in a mix of water and flour, and coat the ceiling it it. When it dried, we could roll on some of that fancy new Kem-Tone paint. “It’d lighten the place up – we’d have a great looking room at almost no cost,” he enthused. Dumb me. I went along with it, little guessing the horrific outcome of our folly. After a day’s hard work, and not getting too much paint or flour mix dripped around the room, it did look pretty good. At least it was brighter. The next night as I lay in my upper bunk trying to get to sleep, I could still smell the freshness of our beautiful new ceiling just a foot or so above my head. Suddenly I heard a funny noise close at hand. “Skritch, scratch, skritch . . .” My eyes popped wide open with the sudden realization of what I was hearing. Rats! There were rats attracted to the flour in our paper mache mix and they were between our ceiling and the floor above trying their best to get at it. I was off that bunk in a bound, pummeling and yelling incoherently at my hapless roommate who had no idea what it was all about. Needless to say, I spent a wakeful night trying to sleep on the floor, keeping one eye open in case of a “break through.” Some rat baits were set out next morning, and no further gnawing was heard for a couple days. But the worst was yet to come. Try to imagine the putrid aroma of one or more dead rats who met their demise in the confined space between the floors of our rooming house. It took weeks for the smell to dissipate, and just about that long for me to forgive Morgan’s creative genius.

Jackie Houchin

I just got an idea – a spin off from my Fall Contest Short Story. But I’m afraid to write it here. I might expel all the “juice” and then not write it all out.

Oh, gosh! You had me quaking and looking over my shoulder. What visuals! What imagination! What suspense and…. horror! Good job. Did you do that all in just 15 minutes??? If so, I have no hope.

Larry McCormack

I can’t seriously take writing advice from a man that hasn’t yet grasped the situational spelling of your.

‘You don’t have to follow your scene list exactly, but they definitely help you work through your story, especially if your writing over multiple sittings.’

Alice Sudlow

Those pesky grammar slip-ups happen to the best of us. It’s fixed now. Thanks for pointing it out!

Colbat Comet

“So they lived happily ever after,” finished Ms. Taslahm. Heather Giron yawned. The one thing that was worse than cleaning the poop of the old brown mare the school owned, a scrawny one that was called Marigold, was listening to Ms. Taslahm’s long, boring tales of this and that that were supposedly supposed to help them during life, like they had for A+ student from more than 100 years ago, Briar Rose, who later became Sleeping Beauty, or wishful Ella, who later became well-known Cinderella. Heather, really, didn’t see anything in her future that may lead her to a wonderful fortune and a story of her own. But that was okay. She didn’t exactly mind. It wasn’t as if she was expecting a wonderful fortune such as someone… Heather cast a side-glance at Savannah Rivers. Savannah Rivers was an annoying, pesky know-it-all of a girl. She had curly black hair and perfectly glossed lips. She had tanner, richer skin than most people in the village, and always wore beautiful, colorful gowns, a obvious contrast to Heather’s dull ones. Today, Savannah’s gown was a pale pink, and it matched her lip gloss and eyeshadow on her heavy lidded gray eyes. Noticing Heather watching her, Savannah smacked her lips and smiled the beautiful princess smile that all the boys fell for. She flashed it at Heather, who returned it with a big, exaggerated motion of someone flipping her hair, a.k.a. Savannah. Sincere Roque leaned over and laughed. Sincere Roque was one of Heather’s’ friends. He had a unique combination of eyes, 1 amber and 1 green. He loved acting. He had honey-colored hair and exactly 14 freckles…not that Heather noticed. Savannah shot them a frown then turned again, listening to Ms. Taslahm as she described the next task they were going to take. “After all, you never know when you’ll get your fortune, or your clue, that with the right knowledge can lead you write to your prince or your damsel in distress.” Kaden Kidd, Sincere’s best friend and ‘Prank Master in Training’ (as Sincere called it), raised his hand. Kaden’s family all had the same dark eyes and black, straight hair. Most of Kaden’s family, though, had pale, white skin, but Kaden had the opposite. He had bronze skin, which he was quite proud of. “Yes, Kaden.” Ms. Taslahm said with a hint of exhaustion in her voice. “Did you ever have a prince, or were you ever ad damsel in distress?” Ms. Taslahm narrowed her eyes. “Yes once…with another girl. The prince swooped in to save us, but he could only take one. He took the other girl, and Wizard Foaly’s henchman, Todd Fincher, had to save me. It was the worst day of my life.” Ms. Taslahm buried her face in her hands. Kaden snickered. “Isn’t that Old Todd from the Village Block. I thought he was Ms. Taslahm’s brother, not husband.” Now Heather had a question. Do you really have to be a damsel in distress to get a prince or a fortune? And do you hafta get a fortune? Can’t we just live like this? While she debated if she should ask the question or not, she stretched on her tree stump. Yes, tree stump. The villages’ school was so small and poor, that they couldn’t afford desks or chairs for everyone, proper lunch, or actual books so the students could read along with the teacher. All this was because of the School Overseer. He was a greedy old man, and whenever the payings came for the teachers and school, he often just took it himself. His office was a dream, and the only reason the teachers stayed teaching was because the loved and felt sorry for the kids. Heather just couldn’t see why. She felt sorry for herself now, and just thinking about it made the boring, fidgety ache come back. And a bit sorry for Ms. Taslahm. But she still tortured Heather everyday and night, and no matter what Ms. Taslahm did or feel was going to change that. Finally, Heather raised her hand, ignoring the snickers coming from Savannah’s side, and the fact that her ripped, tattered sleeve of one of her 5 dresses was growing short. “Yes?” Ms. Taslahm looked more than a bit annoyed. “Do you have to be a damsel in distress to get a prince and a fortune? And what’s so important about a fortune?” Silence settled around the class. Now Ms. Taslahm looked like she was going to go bonkers. “YES! YOU HAVE TO GET A PRINCE TO BE A PRINCESS AND TO GET A FORTUNE, AND YOU HAVE TO BE A DAMSEL IN DISTRESS TO BE A PRINCESS! WHERE HAS YOUR HEAD BEEN THESE LAST TWO YEARS HEATHER GIRON! AND YOU KNOW WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU DON’T GET A FORTUNE, GIRON! YOU END UP A SLAVE OR A TIRELESS WORKER, GETTING NO MONEY, WITH A LUNATIC OF A HUSBAND. YOU FALL OF THE TREE OF LIFE. YOU BECOME GOD’S LAUGHINGSTOCK! AND THEN YOU DIE!” Ms. Taslahm’s face became red and splotchy. Then, her voice softened. “I really hope you guys learn and listen to everything that I teach…it’ll help, a lot. Now, excuse me for a sec…” After Ms. Taslahm got out of hearing range, Sincere whooped and Kaden patted my back. “Congrats, Heather, you won. You made her blow big-time!” Dimly, Heather remembered the contest the boys and Heather had made. Whoever made their teacher ‘blow’, won. But that was by far the last thing on her mind. Is life really like that. You get a prince, you win, if not, you lose and perish…wow. Heather rubbed her temples as the full force of life slammed into her, and as she did, her strawberry blond hair swooped around her, covering her in what seemed like a safe, copper, veil, away and away from reality and, well, life. Away and away. (Comments, Suggestions?)

Mary M

Life could be hard most of the times and it could be horrible. The worst thing about it though, is that people come and go. Living in the moment, we are all blissfully ignorant to the fact that maybe one day, the person in front of us could be a thousand miles away. We don’t usually think about it. What we usually think about is the future we could have with that one person together. We are hopeful that no matter what happens, we’ll always stay the same. We start building that perfect image of the future and how it would be with that one person beside us, but we always seem to forget that, in fact, people do come and go.

To me, it was great shock when that one person left me. I was very close to her: we were practically sisters. I had known her since we were kids. We grew up together; in fact, I can’t remember what my life was like before her. Both our parents believed that we are inseparable, and they made me believe it. What I didn’t know was the fact that they knew. They knew that one day she could leave me. They knew that in all honesty we weren’t inseparable. Most importantly, they knew that people come and go.

We were in the same middle school. We would go to school together and laugh along the way. She would pull me from my arm and drag to the school ground. Life was merrily moving on and we were mere kids living our lives. The last day of middle school – I remember it clearly- the sun was shining brightly in the sky. It was one of those hot, burning days. We were heading back from school, racing through the tree shades and laughing. Obviously, the excitement of the vacation hyped us up. If only I had paid attention at that time, I would’ve seen that my friend’s steps lacked their usual bounce and her smile lacked the usual sparkle. Thinking back to it again, I realized that her dreadlocks fell dead on her shoulders and gently swayed with the heat-filled wind. Her shoulders were slightly hunched with the weight of the news she had carried.

I was too excited to notice any of those little details, and I should’ve. We pranced all the way to our houses (we lived beside each other). As we were used to, we both ran through my front door as soon as it was opened. On the inside wasn’t what I expected. Mrs. and Mr. Sullivan were in the living room. It wasn’t something out of the ordinary though; they were always over at our house. Their faces, I will never forget the solemn look they had on their faces. Mom ushered me and Nancy into the house hurriedly. We both threw our bags next to the couch. There was tension in the air and I could feel it.

“What’s wrong?” I asked as I sat on an armchair. The adults present all looked at one another sharing worried glances. Nancy walked slowly to her parent’s side and clasped her hands together. She sat at the edge of the couch with her head hung low and feet bouncing fast. She was nervous, I could tell.

“There’s something we need to discuss…” Mom moved her gaze towards Mrs. Sullivan motioning for her to start.

Mrs. Sullivan swallowed nervously and cleared her throat. “We know you and Nancy are such great, close friends,”

“And we know we’ve always dreamt of you two growing together,” Mr. Sullivan continued.

“But there are some times when things don’t always go the way we wanted them to,” my father laid a gentle hand on my shoulder. I looked at him confused then turned to everyone.

“I don’t get where this is going.” My voice was shaky fearing what they could say.

“Mr. and Mrs. Sullivan have gotten a new job opportunity in France-”

“Well, that’s great! They’ve always wanted that!” I interrupted my mother and beamed at the Sullivans.

“Yeah, it is, honey, ” my mom smiled sadly, “but…”

“But what?”

“We’re going to France, Lee.” Nancy spoke for the first time. I was very proud of the Sullivan couple for finally reaching their goals. However, it took me a few seconds to actually comprehend what she had just said. Slowly, the smile was erased from my face.

“No…” One word. Only one word, but it was packed with emotions. Tears burned my eyes. I covered my mouth in shock as my gaze raced from person to another, searching for a sign that this isn’t true. This isn’t happening! But they all watched me with sad faces and guilt.

“No, this can’t be happening. This can’t be happening!” I got up to my feet with thoughts racing through my head. “What about our high school years together? We’ve always wanted to go to high school together! It is an experience that cannot be relived any time! What about the parties and sleepovers we were gonna have? Huh? How are we gonna do that now when we’re thousands of miles apart?”

“It wouldn’t be that bad, you know we can chat over the internet.” She tried saying weakly as the tears ran don her face.

“Chat over the internet? You and me both know that isn’t going to happen! Or have you forgotten about Cassandra?” She took in a sharp breath at Cassey’s mention. “You promised you won’t leave me the same way she has!”

“I don’t have a choice!” She was on her feet by now.

“Sure you do! You can stay here!”

“And leave my parents? Lee, you know I can’t live without them!”

“So that’s it? You’re actually going to leave me?” Both our eyes were bloodshot. The adults just sat there, barely holding their tears.

“I guess that’s it.” A second’s pause passed before we embraced each other. Our sobs were loud as we held onto each other. We slowly slid onto the ground; the adults soon joined us.

That moment I would never forget. The moment my best friend left me behind. It was the moment I realized how hard life could be. You truly never know someone’s value until they’re taken away from you. Even through the heartbreaks and break-ups I’ve went through in high school and college, nothing was worse or more painful than that one moment.

People come and go, that’s the way life is. They always leave an imprint of themselves behind, but their memories last long.

People will always come and will always go, but their memories will last long and strong.

Chase S.

The river was our life, yet it was our death. If it wasn’t for the current, and the water of the river, our crop fields would be nothing more than dry, dusty, useless plains. But the river was a deathtrap, after we would get a great harvest, the river would flood our small town, destroying houses, building, and lots of the crops. Livestock would die, and our villagers would be killed. As the main farmer, I tried to make a wall or a levee on the branch of the river that flows next to my lush crop field, but every time, the river would wash over, breaking the wall and destroying everything, I was determined not to let that happen. On July 2, just three months away from harvest, I got up at 5:00 AM, tired, and sleepy, being up 30 minutes earlier than usual. I’ve thought of moving to Italy or Israel, but even if I sold the crop field I wouldn’t make it, and the citizens here would die without me. I sighed, it was a hard life, but at least my wife and family was with me, well most of them. Last year My son moved to Greece, and my daughter, was killed by the flood. The grief follows me everywhere, my other kid is too young to remember them. I also fought with the guilt of my daughter’s death, if I just tried a little bit harder, got up a little bit earlier, I could have saved her, but I didn’t and now it’s too late. I sat there for a second and wiped a tear from my cheek, for her, I will stop the flood and make sure nobody else must suffer the pain and grief I have, NOBODY. I got up and got dressed. I looked in the mirror, and could barely recognize the man in it. I had calices, and wrinkles, and grey hair. My hair was messed up, my boots dirty, and my clothes ripped and torn, I don’t care how I look anymore, after her death, I quit caring about my looks, I just got up and left. Hygiene wasn’t a number one priority either, I barely brushed my teeth, and took a shower every one or two weeks. I didn’t care much for food either. Every morning I would get up, drink a cup of coffee, eat a slice of bread, and an egg. Then in the afternoon, I would retire to the house, my wife would cook something, then I’d drown my sorrows and burdens in whiskey. But to the current task, I was as determined as ever, and wasn’t going to waste any time. My servant would be tending to the farm all day, while I worked on the river. I grabbed a stale piece of bread, and shoved it in my mouth, barely noticing its terrible taste and its staleness. I skipped having a coffee or anything else. I went outside, the sun wasn’t up yet, but there was a faint red line the west, signaling that it was coming soon. I mounted my horse, and rode to the supply store. Once in town, I stopped at the store and bought tons of bricks, I paid for it, and left, determined to waste no time. By the time, I got back to the farm, the sun was up, and it was around 6:30. I had already wasted too much time. I went to the river and started putting the bricks together. I left a hole in the bottom, so the farm could still get water. I grew tired and tired, when eventually, after lugging a heavy brick, I fell, and I heard a crack. The pain was fierce, like I was getting stabbed with a million needles at once, and it kept going, the pain was sharp and searing, and it was in my back. I couldn’t move, I tried calling for help, but my mouth wouldn’t cooperate, I started seeing stars, and eventually, everything went black, and my head fell down hard, hurting more.


I asked the servant if he’d seen him, and he said, “I reckon I haven’t, seems a bit suspicious to me. Tell me if you have, he still owes me some money.” He started chuckling, but when he saw my solemn face, he quieted and got a somber look, “I hope you find him, good day ma’am.” He tipped his hat and kept milking a cow. I don’t know what to think, but eventually, I saw some bricks, then I saw a huge rock laying by it. When I realized, it wasn’t a rock, it was my husband! I nearly fainted, and choked back a sob, the pain of my daughter’s death became all too real again. I looked at him, he was breathing, but he wasn’t moving at all, his eyes were closed, he looked as if he was in another dimension and he looked like he was falling away, I gagged, and chocked back another sob. I ran up the hill and called for the servant to get the medic, and told him the situation, he complied, and I rushed back to my husband.

Everything was black, I was completely numb, and all feeling and heat went right out of my body, everything was cold, and I began to shiver inside my skin, then the memories came… I just exited the barn when I heard the screaming, it was oddly familiar, and I felt like I should know, the voice was tugging at me, when I remembered with a sickening nature, it was my daughter! I tried to run to her, at least my brain did, but my body wouldn’t comply. I was stuck there, helpless and my daughter screaming. What’s happening? I began to move when I heard the familiar gushing, the sound of the waves, and the river, it was flood season! Oh, no, my daughter, she must be there! I started sprinting, when I was stopped short. The gushing got louder, and louder, then BAM! The river exploded with an ear-cracking sound, like it did every year, except this year was different, the river noises were mixed with the screaming of my daughter, and I tried to run, but I was engulfed in water. I swam with all my might against the strong current to get to my daughter, but I couldn’t, I tried for a little bit, then, became tired, and couldn’t do anything, I had to use all my strength just to stay above water so I wouldn’t drown. I hoped that maybe the current would push my daughter to me, but I abandoned it when my daughter was pulled deep into the gushing, overflowing, imploding river, I then realized that this would be the end if I didn’t do something, so I swam as hard as I could, but after I moved a few feet, my arms burned, my legs roared with pain, and my body screamed for me to stop, but my brain told me to move forward, but I couldn’t, not one bit, my body shut down, and I couldn’t move, I sank to the bottom, and abdicated all hope of being able to rescue my daughter, Don’t worry, they’re going to find her, I just know it! The optimistic part of my brain said. But the rational part of my brain knew it wasn’t possible, and soon the rest of my mind agreed, and I felt defeated, like someone had come and took a huge chunk right out of my body and left it there. And I began to hope they wouldn’t save me either, so I could be with my daughter and live in eternal peace, then I could apologize that I wasn’t man enough to save her. I was at the bottom of the water, and I felt like paper, with no soul in me, and the water moved me, until I passed out.

The memories kept coming, one of my daughters funeral, one when my son left, one when me and my wife got married, and I let them come, until the second part of the daughter catastrophe came, then I began to fight, I didn’t want to see another atrocity, I wouldn’t let it happen, but the memory flood in anyways and I gave up.

I woke up, the water was gone, and the river was flowing like normal, I was accompanied by many medics, when one of them yelled, “He’s awake!” and they cheered, I would be cheering too, if I wasn’t the one about to die, almost nobody survived the flood, even if we recovered them, we could not get them to live, and some people would wake up, but die in the hospital. “We need to get him to the hospital immediately!” A medic with a white jacket and a red cross yelled, whom I assumed was the head medic. “No!” I yelled, and coughed up seawater, “My, daughter,” I got out and then the pain attacked me again. The doctor got a solemn look, and it looked like my wife choked back a sob, “I’m sorry to inform you of this, but we recovered your daughter and brought her back to life, but she was paralyzed, and soon died from a stroke.” I tried to be tough, but it wouldn’t happen, and began to sob, the doctor patted me on my back, and said, “I’m terribly sorry, but we are going to take you to the hospital, and our flood prevention donors are going to pay for her wedding and your medical bills.” I wanted to resist, I wanted to stop them from taking me to the hospital, I wanted to do something, anything, but it wouldn’t happen, and I let them take me, with the pain attacking me, fiercely, and I felt like I was imploding, I sighed, and fell asleep.

I woke up, finally away from the terrible memories, I attempted to sit up, but pain seared through me, and the pain engulfed me. I choked back a sob, the memories making the pain all too real again. I attempted to sit up again, when I realized I wasn’t where I was when I fell. I was in a hospital, the same one I was in when my daughter died, my first thought was that this was another memory, but I thought better of it when more pain seared through me. Then, I couldn’t move my right arm, or my left leg, and most of my body wasn’t responding, and it and the pain were threatening to engulf me. I tried to sit up, but all that happened was another searing pain, I cried out in agony. Then, the doctors came rushing to me. “I can’t move.” I managed to get out through gritted teeth, just with that little amount of talking, I felt tired, and more pain came. The doctor looked though some papers, then examined, me, and looked at a device, “Oh, dear.” He said, which made me feel a big scared. “What happened?” I managed again, the doctor looked at me, sighed, then talked, “When you were lugging that brick you fell, assuming because you were tired, and you landed on your arm wrong, which broke it, but when you fell, the brick fell on your back, breaking it, and,” he took a deep breath, then said, “making you paralyzed.” He left with a solemn look as I let that sink in, he had to be wrong, I tried to move, but couldn’t and tried to remain calm, but screamed inside my brain, fear, and pain attacked me, and me not being able to take it. I laid there, not knowing what to do or think, I was paralyzed, I’ll never be able to prevent the floods. I felt defeated, I surrendered, abdicating my chances of stopping the flood, and inside my mind, I was dying, I couldn’t take it, and pain seared through my body. Then, with a start, I awoke, and got ready to get to work.

Kathie Berry

Hi Everyone, Just getting started here and it looks like a wonderful spot to become a better writer. I like the forum setting also to exchange ideas and get input from others. Speaking of input, I have had a certain novel that I have wanted to write for a long time. I have a site and am starting to make a home for it and other works but it’s a sweeping storyline spanning years.I see my first lesson is to write a short story instead. I am not sure that I can pare this one down to a story in that amout of words and time.

So I would love some advice. Should I choose a subject from the list that was given to me or do a “partial ” story choosing a specific time frame, happening, or incident that could have a beginning and end derived from the book I want to write later? Thank you for any ideas and/or advice! Kathie

Elmer Homero Reyes Castillo

Gabriel García Marquez has a short story, “monologue of Isabel watching rain in Macondo”, which was originally part of a novel (like a chapter or something) but he decided he wasnt gonna use it, even tho he had already written it. So I’m guessing he wrote each chapter like a new short story, almost. His style is kinda difficult to copy, so maybe thats not a good example. Perhaps it doesnt really matter what you write, as long as you write it. Looking forward to reading some of your stuff, short or long 😀

Hannah Foust

This is my 15 minute writing practice. Usually, I do a lot more detail and something along the lines of romance, but for some reason I had a small idea of it having to do with a robotic girl and I just expanded onto it as I went along. I hope you like it! I’d like to know your thoughts on it too, what I did good and what I need to work on. If you have any interest in contacting me, just let me know. Thanks!

“When she was little, she never touched a Barbie doll like the other girls. She never thought about makeup. She was different. She read constantly. She learned to write stories at the age of 7. She could calculate the answers to basic Algebraic equations when she was 9. She didn’t just want to learn, it was as if she needed to learn. So that’s why I wasn’t surprised when the doctors told me she did.

Whenever I’d go over to her house and visit her, she’d be listening to music with her earbuds in while she did something like a puzzle on the floor. She’d never hear me walk in. But as soon as I asked her, say, maybe a mathematical question, all focus was on me and she’d be determined on getting the correct answer. She was strange. I never understood her ways or why she was the way she was, but I accepted it. I accepted her. I didn’t realize I’d be accepting an it.

I got the call on Wednesday morning around 3 A.M.. It was an officer from the police department. I was confused and scared. What could possibly be wrong? A million things. A million things could be wrong. I asked every question I could think of or manage to get out of my mouth, but all I could get for an answer from whoever it was on the other line was: “Come down here and see for yourself.” So I went down there to the police station. When I arrived I was wondering why we weren’t somewhere such as a hospital already. As I walked in, I knew why. For Lilith, we don’t need a hospital, we need a mechanic.

Lilith was sitting in a chair while uncertain medics, police officers, mechanics, and many others were surrounding her. At a distance her father was holding her mother in her arms as she cried, I’d expect him to, but he wasn’t. He was just staring at his daughter, a blank expression across his face. I ran over to them, only a few of the million questions I had, spilling out of my mouth. I couldn’t get a response from either.

I turned and barged into the crowd of people surrounding Lilith. “Lilith!” I screamed. No response from her, no movement, no words spoken, nothing. It’s as if there was a switch on her and it was turned off. I pushed through the crowds and they obliged, allowing me near her until I was on my knees crying as the wires that were strewn out of her knees lay twisted and coiled on the floor around me. What happened to her? What happened to my best friend?

To answer that question for you, the government persuaded her father that it was the right thing to do. That it’d be alright. That’d it’d be safe, for them to experiment on his daughter. They had a theory that if they somehow rearranged body parts and substituted wires and motors and such for things like organs and tissues, later in life the average human would be invincible. They’d be capable of learning anything. They’d be capable of learning everything. But Lilith, she learned everything already by the age of 19. What else was there for her to do? Her life goal was to do such and she’d done it. Her body was shutting down. She needed to know more, her robotic body needed it. Her mechanical mind needed stimulated by something.

Although she was mostly robotic, she was also partially human. She had one of the most humane things, emotion. And she was suffering as she grew weaker everyday. Literally dying to know more. As the robotic part of her began to give up, so did the human part. She gave up. She didn’t want to be just an experiment, and she definitely didn’t want to give any result to the scientists who thought this would be alright, that it was successful. So she let them know that it failed as she slashed through the wires and circuits inside her, turning off all parts of her, both motorized and mortal.”

Gordon Jeffery

I am currently working on a collection of short stories. It is in the beginning stages but the process is by far the most enjoyable part. I have about two thousand words completed so far. I roughly have spent about 5 hrs. The tips in this site have given me a clear path to creating a great story.I just want it to be able to relate to the reader grammatically. That’s my main concern but doing research is part of the journey.


Amazing tips. I have written a mystery novella with twist in the end. When I started it I intended it to be a short story but it got stretched to 46 pages of length. It’s available on my blog. You may check it and feedback will be highly appreciated

Larry Bone

Sarah, The most challenging part of writing a short story is having an idea from personal experience. Having a general idea of it as a slice of life. But what is the theme? You get a sort of theme in what you want the story to communicate. You write bits and pieces but the biggest challenge is making all fit together. Particularly you want a series of actions and you want the reader to think of the theme naturally occurring out of accumulated flow of the story. Larry B.


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Creative Writing Skills: 6 Lessons You Need To Teach Today

Creative Writing Skills: 6 Lessons You Need To Teach Today

So, you’re going to teach Creative Writing. Congratulations! Now comes the hard part–what exactly does that mean? What should you be teaching? What skills should your students be learning? In this post, I’m going to share some essential Creative Writing skills you should be teaching in your high school Creative Writing class. 

If you’re looking for more tips to teach Creative Writing, check out this post . And if you need help planning the Creative Writing semester, this post should help . 

(Looking to skip the planning entirely? Grab all of my Creative Writing skills lessons right here! )

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Creative Writing Skills #1: Show. Don’t Tell.

The advice to “show, don’t tell” is some of the oldest and most consistent advice given to young writers. And it’s for a good reason–they really struggle with it!

About half of my students come into Creative Writing with these big elaborate stories they want to tell. But when they actually get into writing, their stories feel more like a list of events that happened. 

I’ve seen months of plot happen in just a paragraph of my students’ writing. Students need to learn to slow down and create an experience for their readers. It’s how a story unfolds, after all, that makes it worthwhile–not the events themselves. 

Tips for Teaching “Show. Don’t Tell”

Cover of It's Lit Teaching Product: Creative Writing Workshop and Mini Lesson for Showing, Not Telling in Writing

Like all creative writing skills, you’ll want to show your students some really good mentor texts first . Find some excerpts from books with really juicy descriptions. Share these with your students. 

After they have some examples, give students time to try “telling” an event, description, or emotion instead of “showing” it. 

I do this by giving each student a “telling sentence” and asking them to turn it into a “showing” paragraph. A student might get a sentence that says something like, “Billy felt angry.” Then, they’ll have to write a whole paragraph that implies Billy is angry without actually saying it bluntly. 

If you want to save yourself some time (and the mental anguish of brainstorming a bunch of bland sentences), you can get my “Show. Don’t Tell” Mini-Lesson right here. It includes a slideshow, student worksheets, and those telling sentences.  

write a short piece of creative writing about a student brainly

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Creative Writing Skills #2: Precise and Concise Language Choice

Now that your students are learning to slow down and offer descriptions in their writing, it’s time to help them focus on their word choice. 

Diction is immensely important to a writer–especially when storytelling gets more advanced. A lot of our students want to write down the first words that come to their minds and then “be done.” 

But we know great writing doesn’t happen like that. We have to teach our students to find the best word, not the first word–without abusing a thesaurus. 

Tips for Teaching Better Word Choice

First, you’ll want to show your students some examples of really great concise and precise word choice. You’ll also want to show some not-so-great examples. The comparison should be eye-opening for your students. 

Now, the best way to become more precise in your diction is to improve your vocabulary. We probably can’t make great strides in improving our students’ vocabulary in just a quarter or semester of Creative Writing. 

write a short piece of creative writing about a student brainly

But we can show them how to improve some of the most commonly used vague language . One great example of this is the word “got.” 

It’s pretty rare that “got” is the best verb for a situation, but we–and our students–use it all the time. If we can teach students that “got” is a red flag for vague language, that’s a huge step!

We can also teach our students to avoid filler words. 

If you need help putting this all together in a lesson, I have a no-prep Precise and Concise Langauge Mini-Lesson right here for you . Included is a slideshow, students worksheets, and a reference handout for students they can use every day. 

Creative Writing Skills #3: Dialogue

Your students are starting to put words on a page and–hey–they’re not bad!

But at some point, your students are going to have their characters talk to each other. And this can be when stories get really, really bad. 

Early on in your Creative Writing class, encourage your students to start listening to the way others speak. Where do they pause? What slang do they use? When do they use complete sentences and when don’t they? You can even ask students to jot down conversations they overhear.

A great writer has an ear for dialogue, and this skill begins when students become aware of speech around them. Encouraging them to eavesdrop will help them write realistic dialogue later.  Just remind them to be respectful. Eavesdropping in the cafeteria is one thing. Listening outside someone’s bedroom door is another.

Our students not only struggle with mimicking real, authentic speech, but they also struggle with punctuating it. Depending on the skill level of your students, you may have to pick your battles here. Cheesy speech might be worth ignoring if there’s no quotation mark in sight. 

Tips for Teaching Dialogue Writing

First, and foremost, I like to cover punctuating dialogue first. For one reason, it’s because punctuating dialogue is either right or wrong. It’s easier to learn something that is objective. 

write a short piece of creative writing about a student brainly

For another reason, I, personally, can’t stand reading poorly punctuated dialogue. My English teacher’s eyes just can’t see past it. 

Only once the quotation marks, commas, and periods are at least close to the right spot do I focus on trying to improve the content of students’ dialogue. 

Students’ dialogue writing is only going to get better through practice and observing real-life speech. However, you can give them some tips for writing dialogue better. 

For example, remind your students not to have characters talk too much . I’ve seen stories with pages and pages of dialogue. Each character’s every little “hi,” “‘sup?” and “‘nothin’ much” gets recorded. Let your students know they can skip anything that doesn’t add value to the story. 

If you need help planning this lesson, I have a done-for-you Dialogue Mini-lesson right here. It includes a slideshow lesson, worksheets for focusing on both punctuation and craft, and a writing exercise. Get it here. 

"Creative Writing Skills: 6 Lessons You Need to Teach Today" It's Lit Teaching blog post Pinterest pin

Creative Writing Skills #4: Mood

If you can only teach your students the above Creative Writing skills, you will no doubt improve their writing tremendously. But if you want to take your students’ writing up a notch, encourage them to think about the mood in their poetry and stories.  

Students will no doubt have heard this literary term from their regular English classes, but it’s always worth reviewing first. Plus, they’ve probably read for mood, but creating it is a totally different game. 

Tips for Teaching Mood

There are so many ways you can teach your students to create mood. It’s a pretty fun topic!

You might want to begin with some brainstorming. Like, what kind of mood might a horror story have? A comedy? You want students to understand why, as a writer, mastering mood is important to them. 

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Then, like always, you’ll want to share some solid mentor texts. I love horror stories for showcasing well-written mood, but love poems are also good for this. 

Whenever possible in Creative Writing, I like to mix up the media, so I have students first analyze the mood of various classic paintings. As an English teacher, it tickles me to show students that these literary terms apply to art of all kind. Film clips would work really well, too. 

Then, challenge students to write a scene and evoke a specific mood. You could randomly assign the mood or let students pick. 

In my Mood Mini-Lesson , I have students analyze the mood in painting first. Then, I have them choose a card. Each card has a different mood written on it. Then, students must describe a setting that evokes that mood. You can get this mood lesson for yourself here.  

Creative Writing Skills #5: Tone

Well, if you’re going to teach mood, then tone is the likely next skill, right?

Teaching tone and mood is important because their differences are subtle, but important. Until students study tone, they might mistake it for mood and mix the two together. 

I never expect my students to master tone. It’s difficult and something that even professional writers polish over the course of many drafts. But it doesn’t hurt to get students thinking about the impact of their word choice. 

Don’t forget to remind students of the importance of choosing those precise and concise words. With tone, it’s truly what makes a difference. 

Tips for Teaching Tone

After defining tone and showing great examples of it to your students, give them some space to practice identifying it.  

Cover for It's Lit Teaching product: Creative Writing Mini Lesson and Workshop Tone

I like to cover informal and formal tones–not just emotional tones. Identifying whether a piece of writing is formal or informal is a great first step for students. It’s a little easier but an important skill and might give your students a bit of confidence in their tone-identifying skills. 

Once they know what tone looks like, they can try to create it themselves.  

The activity I do involves having students write a short scene.

I randomly give my students a tone to use. I also randomly give them a situation. So, a student may have to describe “eating lunch in the cafeteria” with a “romantic” tone. The results can be pretty entertaining!

If that sounds like a lesson you’d like, you can get my Tone Mini-Lesson right here . Includes are a slideshow, students worksheets, and the slips for tones and situations.

And, if you’re teaching mood and tone, I have a FREE Mood and Tone Handout right here!

Creative Writing Skills #6: Voice

I put voice last in this blog post, but it could just as easily have been first. Voice is difficult to define for students, but it’s something they should be working on crafting throughout your whole Creative Writing class. 

Even if your students never quite master their literary voice (who does?), it’s a good skill to discuss with them. If students understand the concept of literary voice, it will make them better writers and more analytical readers. 

Tips for Teaching Literary Voice

You’ll first have to define voice for your students. This can be challenging. It might be easier to focus on a few aspects of voice–like diction or syntax–in order to explain the concept. 

Discuss with students their favorite authors. What does their “voice” sound like? What about the authors you’ve read and studied together?

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Give students examples of strong voice to examine (the stronger the better). Have them discuss the techniques and style of each mentor text. 

To drive this home, I do a fun activity with my students. I take three very different poems by authors with very different voices. Then, I cut them up, line by line, and mix the three poems together. My students are then tasked with putting the poems back together!

To do this successfully, they’ll have to look for styles that match. Rhyming may be part of one author’s voice, but not another. One author may create a dark mood while another uses humor consistently. It’s a great way to drive home how voice can be an author’s calling card. 

This activity and some additional practice are included in my Voice Mini-lesson . Also included is a slideshow to introduce the concept. You can save yourself some time and get the lesson here. 

"Creative Writing Skills: 6 Lessons You Need to Teach Today" It's Lit Teaching blog post Pinterest pin

These are some skills that I think are essential for any Creative Writing class. There’s no one right way to teach any of these skills, and teaching from multiple angles is best. 

Whenever possible, I like to make my Creative Writing lessons hands-on. Even the most die-hard students get sick of writing every minute of every class. 

If you, too, would like some hands-on lessons and short activities that cover these essential skills, check out my Creative Writing Workshops Bundle . Each lesson includes everything you need to teach, model, and help your students master these skills one at a time. 

Cover for It's Lit Teaching Product: Creative Writing Workshops Mini Lessons Bundle

Writing Forward

Five Things I Learned in Creative Writing Class

by Melissa Donovan | May 4, 2023 | Creative Writing | 32 comments

creative writing class

What can you learn in a creative writing class?

People often ask me whether I think a formal education is necessary to a successful writing career. A degree certainly helps, but no, it’s not necessary. There are master writers who did not finish high school and plenty never went to college.

I want to be clear: I fully support higher education. If you pull me aside and ask whether I think you should go to college, I’m going to say, “Yes, of course you should!” I encounter plenty of writers (and other professionals) who lack confidence because they feel they need that degree to back up their abilities. That’s just not so. If you want to write, you should write, regardless of whether you have a degree.

Lessons from Creative Writing Class

Today, I thought I’d share a few lessons I learned when I took a creative writing class in college. This might provide some insight if you’re currently weighing whether to go to college or whether to study creative writing in college. This is by no means an exhaustive list; I’m going to highlight the most valuable lessons I learned — things that stuck with me and altered my life as a writer for the better. You’ll note that all of these are things you can learn outside of a classroom setting, if necessary.

1. Oh, so that’s what you mean by freewriting.

The first few days of my creative writing class, we spent ten to twenty minutes freewriting as soon as class started. About two weeks later, the instructor asked if anyone wanted to read one of their freewrites out loud. A volunteer stood up and started reading, and I realized I had been doing it wrong all along.

My freewrites were nothing more than diary entries. I simply wrote about whatever was going on in my life. But my classmate had written a mesmerizing stream-of-consciousness piece that sounded like something out of a dream. It was poetic! Oh, I thought, that’s what we’re supposed to be doing .

I had actually thought it odd that we were writing journals in class. Now it made sense! In creative writing class, I learned to freewrite every day as part of my writing practice and as a tool to generate raw material for poetry and story ideas. It had a huge impact on my writing and marked a time when my work and my writing practices went through dramatic improvements.

2. Some people work out with weights; we do writing exercises.

Writing exercises are where my technical skills saw the most progress. When you write whatever you want, whenever you want, there are aspects of the craft that inevitably escape you. Writing exercises and assignments forced me to think more strategically about my writing from a technical standpoint. It wasn’t about getting my ideas onto the page; it was about setting out to achieve a specific mission with my writing.

Many writing exercises that we did in class imparted valuable writing concepts; these were the exercises I treasured most because they helped me see my writing from various angles. Writing exercises also gave me a host of creativity methods that I use to this day to keep writer’s block at bay.

Finally, all those exercises I did back in college ultimately inspired my own book of creative writing exercises ; although the inspiration came from poetry and fiction writing courses as well as the creative writing class that I took.

3. The writing community is a treasure.

When I was in high school and a teacher would announce a quiz or a writing assignment, the students would let out a collective sigh and begrudgingly get to work. In creative writing class, when the instructor said, “Let’s do a writing exercise,” everybody got excited. We couldn’t pull out our notebooks and pens fast enough!

Here’s the thing about a creative writing class: everyone in the room wants to be there. They chose to be there. So there’s a lot of enthusiasm and passion. For the first time in my life, I found myself surrounded by people with whom I shared a common interest.

More importantly, there’s plenty of support and camaraderie. Prior to taking this class, I had shown a few pieces of my writing to friends and family, who mostly just nodded and said that it was good or that I was talented. In class, I was surrounded by other writers who were eager and interested to read what I had written, and the best part was that they offered suggestions that would make my writing even better! I can’t stress enough how warm I’ve found writers to be over the years. It’s an honor to be part of such a supportive community.

4. Nothing can replace a mentor.

In college, instructors who taught writing classes were all published authors. As a student, I had direct access to writers who had gone through all the rigors of everything that happens in the writing process : drafting, revising, submitting, publishing, and marketing.

These instructors were also extremely well versed in literature and the craft of writing (as they should be — that’s their job, after all). And there is nothing — no book, video, or article — that beats direct access to an experienced professional.

5. Right place, right time.

Perhaps the best lesson I gleaned from creative writing class was that I was in the right place at the right time. This was a feeling that came from within, a certainty that I was doing exactly what I was meant to be doing. The semester that I took a creative writing class was packed with odd coincidences and epiphanies. I was often overwhelmed with feelings of serendipity, and I stopped questioning whether I had made the right choice in pursuing creative writing as my field of study.

Alternatives to a Creative Writing Class

As I mentioned, most of these lessons can be learned outside of a creative writing class. You can discover writing techniques and strategies from books, blogs, and magazines. You can find a community and a mentor online or in local writing groups. And you can experience a sense of certainty just about anywhere.

I definitely recommend taking a creative writing class if you can, and if you’re truly dedicated to writing and intend on going to college, then it only makes sense to study it formally. However, for writers who can’t or haven’t gone to college, I say this: find another route. A creative writing class or a creative writing degree will be helpful to building a writing career, but these things are not essential.

Ready Set Write a Guide to Creative Writing



Hi Melissa, great post as always!

I just finished reading Natalie Goldberg’s ‘Writing Down the Bones’, in it she talks about writing practice. I also just purchased your book ‘101 Creative Writing Exercises’ and I’m loving it. But I’m still not quite getting freewriting either. I was wondering if you could tell me what I need to be doing to stop it sounding like a journal?

Melissa Donovan

It takes a bit of practice if you have a hard time thinking or writing in the abstract. Instead of starting with a general freewrite, you might try a guided freewrite and work with a word or image. Instead of writing a diary-style journal, you will write about the image (or word) you have chosen. Go for something a bit on the bizarre side or choose an abstract image. The trick is to relax and let strange, obscure words and phrases come to mind, and then write those down.

Here are some suggestions for words and images to use for a guided freewrite: space, clouds, deep sea. You can also search online for abstract art and keep an image in front of you while you write. Make sure you turn off your inner editor. Don’t think about what you’re writing; just let the words flow. Good luck!

Tia Bach

I love the idea of freewriting, but am so glad you defined it. I would have been journalling right along side you. But I write women’s fiction, so maybe that would have worked out for me in the end. My issue lately is a feeling of being uninspired. I think a creative writing class would definitely help with that.

My apprehension with taking more writing classes, in all honesty, is the subjectiveness of teachers. I have had wonderful writing experiences, but it never fails that you get that one teacher who doesn’t like your work, will never like your work. I don’t need that in my head.

My mother, also a writer, decided to get her English degree as an adult (I graduated college a semester before she did). She met up with a teacher that truly hated her writing. We have drastically different styles, so she asked me to help her. I ended up writing her papers and getting her an A.

Thanks for this post… you’ve inspired me to go write one of my own.

When I was attending community college, I had a teacher like that. Since I picked up on her bias early on, I was able to simply drop the class. She told me right to my face that she would grade me down if she didn’t agree with my opinion in a position paper. I almost reported her but decided to let it go and move on. It definitely helps to give yourself some leeway and check out your instructors before you sign on. I cannot support writing other people’s papers as that is a serious violation of every school policy. There are other ways to resolve issues with an instructor. Most schools will let you do a special withdrawal if there is a conflict like that.

Tim LaBarge

Great content, Melissa. I certainly agree that you don’t need an MFA or even an undergraduate writing degree in order to be considered “a writer.” Anyone can write provided they put the time and effort in the right place. Although a few writing classes along the way can be an enormous help.

One thing I learned through a fiction writing class was that peer edits are invaluable. So often when you ask someone to edit your work you get the “it’s good” or “you misspelled something on page 9” response. What I realized in this course was that most writers want to be criticized (constructively, of course). Writers are generally driven to continually improve their craft. Peer edits are a great way to do this, and as a result I no longer feel bad when critiquing someone else’s work. It only helps them.

Thanks for the post.

I couldn’t agree more. When I was in school, feedback was the single most valuable learning experience. Many writers struggle emotionally with critiques but I never did. I just got excited that people were invested enough to help me improve my work!

Kelvin Kao

Though I have not taken a creative writing class, I can relate to many of the elements on some level. Less than a year ago, I went from a small company, to solo freelancing, and after a few months joined a big company. It was nice having co-workers again. We are computer programmers and we write code. Now that I am working with other people, I get to see what they wrote and how they wrote certain things. (There wasn’t really an equivalence to freewriting, though!) When I was working by myself, I had a tendency to just do things a certain way. Now I get more experienced programmers as mentors and they would push me to look into certain ways of doing things that I wasn’t familiar with. So yeah. Many of the same elements.

I am thinking that it’s the structure, sense of community, and the immediacy of feedbacks that really help.

As much as I love being self-employed, I’m hugely grateful for over a decade of on-the-job experience working with other people. I’m pretty sure that without having been mentored by professionals in the business world, my self-employment would have been blind and amateurish. I do miss having coworkers though. Social media is wonderful, but it’s not a true replacement for that sense of community.

Ashley Prince

I love this post. As an English major, there are times when I just want to quit school and focus on writing. I feel like the constraints and expectations in college are limiting my creativity. I have not gotten enough pre-reqs out of the way in which to take a creative writing class, but I definitely will now.

The community is the best part.

I say don’t give up on college! In addition to all the things you’ll learn about writing, it will enrich you as a human being. Stick with it; you’ll be glad you did.

Sarah Allen

Fantastic list! And very true. Especially the community feel, that’s probably what I miss the most now that I’m done.

That’s definitely what I miss the most. Plus, I used to love being on campus (I went to two different schools with gorgeous campuses). I’ve thought about going back for my MFA. Maybe someday…

Bill Polm

Good one, Melissa. I like what you said re the writing exercises. Good reminder. It’s easy to get all caught up in pumping out blog posts and ebooks and trying to get through that novel rewrite and skip those exercises. And, yes, those critiques really help. I’m amazed at times at what I don’t see that needs more clarity in my writing.

Thanks, Bill. Yes, there’s so much we can do with exercises. I use them within larger projects. For example, I can apply various fiction writing exercises to a novel that I’m writing. I’ll generate material that won’t end up in the manuscript, but it’s good for the writing muscles!

Peter Minj

A friend of mine tells me that i am still not giving my all for writing and I should not delve into a career in writing till I reach that level.I believe I am trying whatever I can at the moment.I can only get better by writing more and with more time and effort I will grow more as a writer.But that statement of my friend creates lot of self-doubt in me whether I will make it as a writer.

Hi Peter. I don’t know your friend and am not familiar with your writing, so I can’t give you any specific feedback about how much work your writing needs, but you are correct: the more you write, the better it will get. Your writing will also improve if you read a lot. One tip I can offer is to proofread everything you write, including comments on blogs like this. Get a book or two on the craft of writing, and definitely get a second opinion (don’t limit the feedback on your writing to one person).

jesma archibald

A million thanks to you mellisa! you see as a child i loved books and writting but lost my way in life.Now i am quiety returning to what i loved.However its difficult.I began searching the internet for advice and i found your site.I am so elated!I feel that i am now being gently held by the hand to write and with a greater understanding of what i am supposed to do.I am in my fortieth year,but i know it’s never too late.This is one of the most instructive sites i’ve found.!

Thanks so much for your kind words. I’m always thrilled when people return to writing after so many years. What a wonderful reawakening that must be. I wish you the best of luck with your writing, Jesma.

Molly Kluever

Thanks for the suggestions! I’m in the eighth grade, but my English teachers have always said that I write at an advanced high school level. I love writing, I really do. I’ve read classic and modern literature to tweak my style, and also personally studied different techniques, like the ones you’ve provided here. Unfortunately, like I said, I’m an eighth grader, so I can’t go enroll at a university for writing classes. But I’m not challenged enough with my basic English curriculum. Do you have any suggestions for me to get better?

Hi Molly. The best suggestion I can give you is simply this: read and write. Read as much as you can, and read across different forms (essays, poetry, fiction) and genres (literary, speculative, etc.). Nothing will improve your writing like reading good books, and if you can absorb a lot of literature now, then when you get to college, you’ll be leagues ahead of your peers when you take writing workshops and classes.

Good luck to you!

samantha webber

Thankyou so much for writing this, I really want to start a writing career but don’t know where to start, this is really helpfull! Do you mind if I ask which university you went to as I’m just about to start my finall year doing A-levels and I’m looking around at uni’s and I want to make sure I go to the right on. Thanks again!!

I chose my school based on location. It was close to home and I didn’t have to move. If you do a search online, you’ll find which universities are known for their writing programs.

Marcy McKay

Great info, Melissa. Thanks. I especially liked your explanation about freewriting. That might mean different things to different people. You described it well.

Hi Marcy. Yes, freewriting has many variations, so it can definitely mean different things to different people. Thanks!

Mae Labiste

Thanks for the tips and telling us what it’s like to be in a Creative Writing class. I’m just wondering… I’m a new university student and I took a writing class in high school and thought it was a great experience. I love writing short stories and writing poetry. But now, I’m in university, I really want to take that course but I have terrible grammar and i dont know if anyone would take it

Every university is different, but in my experience, the creative writing instructors weren’t sticklers about grammar. Having said that, if you feel your grammar could be improved, why not work on it? It will not only improve your short stories and poems, it will also benefit you in communications and probably in your career as well. But I wouldn’t worry about it too much, especially in a creative class and as a new student. That’s why you’re there: to learn.


Great article. Thanks for the explanation of freewriting. I do this sometimes before I begin a big writing task — just didn’t realize I was freewriting!

And, I couldn’t agree more about writing exercises. My entire career is essentially based on executing high-level writing exercises for clients within a scope and a deadline. It’s like writing for your life — no better way to improve your skills!

My co-workers have wondered why I also write for online magazines or enter writing contests, especially if all I ever do is write. However, I believe it’s critical to challenge yourself and continue strengthening that creative muscle. My social writing circle is practically non-existent because I am the writing mentor for colleagues, and with such a demanding job, it’s difficult to find time to talk to others about writing or where to find writing courses.

This was a refreshing read that reminded me of the importance of making those connections again. Thank you.

Thanks. I love freewriting, and it’s a great way to warm up for a writing session.


Thanks for your post Melissa, it brought a lot of good insight to the forefront of my mind–especially about freewriting.

In middle and high school I was a gifted underachiever. Then I spent my late teens and twenties exposing myself to a substantial amount of literature, life lessons, fickle pathways at community college, partying, and jobs–so many jobs. When I finally made some headway with respect to credits, getting those much desired A’s, I finally felt ready to transfer to university and make a career with my eminent computer science degree. Except my life was tumultuous at best, and I was suddenly faced with a problem new to me–crippling insomnia.

These past five years I’ve had to humbly and patiently nurture myself to health. After a lot of introspection I came to accept that my academic path in life had been more to please other people rather than thriving in that which truly excites me–writing and teaching math (tutoring people for the GED helped me realize this).

I’m finally ready to start exercizing my writing skills again. My well of life experience and creativity make generating content simple. But I’m excited to re-familiarize myself with the fundamentals–to really put in the necessary work it takes to write naturally, with clarity and beautiful simplicity as you and others do.

I don’t know exactly where my writing will bring me after university, but I will have all the space and time I need to write while living off my land in my tiny home and tending to my vegetable garden. I appreciate you and the other commenters here for your effort and insight. I’m 32 and I feel as though I’m 18 again, with my whole life ahead of me–and without the essential naivety youth provides (or at least less of it!).

Hi Mark. Thanks for sharing your writing journey with us. One of the things I love about writing is that it’s always there for us, no matter how long we’ve been away. Welcome back to the craft.

V.M. Sang

I have learned much from blogs like this one, and other writers I’ve got to know on the internet. I did not do a creative writing course as I did Science with English Literature and Mathematics as subsidiaries. I am grateful for the writers of those blogs and the authors of the many books I’ve read. Also, I am in two online critique groups that I find helpful. I take your point about people who don’t like your writing. Recently,I posted a work on one group. One critiquer suggested I cut one paragraph of description as she said it added nothing. The next critique I read told me that the critiquer loved my descriptions! You can’t please everyone.

I have been in some settings with critique groups and absolutely loved it. Nothing improved my writing faster or more than workshopping and critiques. Yes, opinions will vary, but the feedback is still interesting and can be useful.

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Last updated on Oct 29, 2023

How to Write a Short Story in 9 Simple Steps

This post is written by UK writer Robert Grossmith. His short stories have been widely anthologized, including in The Time Out Book of London Short Stories , The Best of Best Short Stories , and The Penguin Book of First World War Stories . You  can collaborate with him on your own short stories here on Reedsy .  

The joy of writing short stories is, in many ways, tied to its limitations.  Developing characters, conflict, and a premise within a few pages is a thrilling challenge that many writers relish — even after they've "graduated" to long-form fiction.

In this article, I’ll take you through the process of writing a short story, from idea conception to the final draft.

How to write a short story:

1. Know what a short story is versus a novel

2. pick a simple, central premise, 3. build a small but distinct cast of characters, 4. begin writing close to the end, 5. shut out your internal editor, 6. finish the first draft, 7. edit the short story, 8. share the story with beta readers, 9. submit the short story to publications.

But first, let’s talk about what makes a short story different from a novel. 

The simple answer to this question, of course, is that the short story is shorter than the novel, usually coming in at between, say, 1,000-15,000 words. Any shorter and you’re into flash fiction territory. Any longer and you’re approaching novella length . 

As far as other features are concerned, it’s easier to define the short story by what it lacks compared to the novel . For example, the short story usually has:

  • fewer characters than a novel
  • a single point of view, either first person or third person
  • a single storyline without subplots
  • less in the way of back story or exposition than a novel

If backstory is needed at all, it should come late in the story and be kept to a minimum.

It’s worth remembering too that some of the best short stories consist of a single dramatic episode in the form of a vignette or epiphany.



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A short story can begin life in all sorts of ways.

It may be suggested by a simple but powerful image that imprints itself on the mind. It may derive from the contemplation of a particular character type — someone you know perhaps — that you’re keen to understand and explore. It may arise out of a memorable incident in your own life.

write a short piece of creative writing about a student brainly

For example:

  • Kafka began “The Metamorphosis” with the intuition that a premise in which the protagonist wakes one morning to find he’s been transformed into a giant insect would allow him to explore questions about human relationships and the human condition.
  • Herman Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener” takes the basic idea of a lowly clerk who decides he will no longer do anything he doesn’t personally wish to do, and turns it into a multi-layered tale capable of a variety of interpretations.

When I look back on some of my own short stories, I find a similar dynamic at work: a simple originating idea slowly expands to become something more nuanced and less formulaic. 

So how do you find this “first heartbeat” of your own short story? Here are several ways to do so. 

Experiment with writing prompts

Eagle-eyed readers will notice that the story premises mentioned above actually have a great deal in common with writing prompts like the ones put forward each week in Reedsy’s short story competition . Try it out! These prompts are often themed in a way that’s designed to narrow the focus for the writer so that one isn’t confronted with a completely blank canvas.

write a short piece of creative writing about a student brainly

Turn to the originals

Take a story or novel you admire and think about how you might rework it, changing a key element. (“Pride and Prejudice and Vampires” is perhaps an extreme product of this exercise.) It doesn’t matter that your proposed reworking will probably never amount to more than a skimpy mental reimagining — it may well throw up collateral narrative possibilities along the way.

Keep a notebook

Finally, keep a notebook in which to jot down stray observations and story ideas whenever they occur to you. Again, most of what you write will be stuff you never return to, and it may even fail to make sense when you reread it. But lurking among the dross may be that one rough diamond that makes all the rest worthwhile. 

Like I mentioned earlier, short stories usually contain far fewer characters than novels. Readers also need to know far less about the characters in a short story than we do in a novel (sometimes it’s the lack of information about a particular character in a story that adds to the mystery surrounding them, making them more compelling).

write a short piece of creative writing about a student brainly

Yet it remains the case that creating memorable characters should be one of your principal goals. Think of your own family, friends and colleagues. Do you ever get them confused with one another? Probably not. 

Your dramatis personae should be just as easily distinguishable from one another, either through their appearance, behavior, speech patterns, or some other unique trait. If you find yourself struggling, a character profile template like the one you can download for free below is particularly helpful in this stage of writing.   



Reedsy’s Character Profile Template

A story is only as strong as its characters. Fill this out to develop yours.

  • “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman features a cast of two: the narrator and her husband. How does Gilman give her narrator uniquely identifying features?
  • “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe features a cast of three: the narrator, the old man, and the police. How does Poe use speech patterns in dialogue and within the text itself to convey important information about the narrator?
  • “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor is perhaps an exception: its cast of characters amounts to a whopping (for a short story) nine. How does she introduce each character? In what way does she make each character, in particular The Misfit, distinct?

write a short piece of creative writing about a student brainly

He’s right: avoid the preliminary exposition or extended scene-setting. Begin your story by plunging straight into the heart of the action. What most readers want from a story is drama and conflict, and this is often best achieved by beginning in media res . You have no time to waste in a short story. The first sentence of your story is crucial, and needs to grab the reader’s attention to make them want to read on. 

One way to do this is to write an opening sentence that makes the reader ask questions. For example, Kingsley Amis once said, tongue-in-cheek, that in the future he would only read novels that began with the words: “A shot rang out.”

This simple sentence is actually quite telling. It introduces the stakes: there’s an immediate element of physical danger, and therefore jeopardy for someone. But it also raises questions that the reader will want answered. Who fired the shot? Who or what were they aiming at, and why? Where is this happening?

We read fiction for the most part to get answers to questions. For example, if you begin your story with a character who behaves in an unexpected way, the reader will want to know why he or she is behaving like this. What motivates their unusual behavior? Do they know that what they’re doing or saying is odd? Do they perhaps have something to hide? Can we trust this character? 

As the author, you can answer these questions later (that is, answer them dramatically rather than through exposition). But since we’re speaking of the beginning of a story, at the moment it’s enough simply to deliver an opening sentence that piques the reader’s curiosity, raises questions, and keeps them reading.

“Anything goes” should be your maxim when embarking on your first draft. 



How to Craft a Killer Short Story

From pacing to character development, master the elements of short fiction.

By that, I mean: kill the editor in your head and give your imagination free rein. Remember, you’re beginning with a blank page. Anything you put down will be an improvement on what’s currently there, which is nothing. And there’s a prescription for any obstacle you might encounter at this stage of writing. 

  • Worried that you’re overwriting? Don’t worry. It’s easier to cut material in later drafts once you’ve sketched out the whole story. 
  • Got stuck, but know what happens later? Leave a gap. There’s no necessity to write the story sequentially. You can always come back and fill in the gap once the rest of the story is complete. 
  • Have a half-developed scene that’s hard for you to get onto the page? Write it in note form for the time being. You might find that it relieves the pressure of having to write in complete sentences from the get-go.

Most of my stories were begun with no idea of their eventual destination, but merely an approximate direction of travel. To put it another way, I’m a ‘pantser’ (flying by the seat of my pants, making it up as I go along) rather than a planner. There is, of course, no right way to write your first draft. What matters is that you have a first draft on your hands at the end of the day. 

It’s hard to overstate the importance of the ending of a short story : it can rescue an inferior story or ruin an otherwise superior one. 

If you’re a planner, you will already know the broad outlines of the ending. If you’re a pantser like me, you won’t — though you’ll hope that a number of possible endings will have occurred to you in the course of writing and rewriting the story! 

In both cases, keep in mind that what you’re after is an ending that’s true to the internal logic of the story without being obvious or predictable. What you want to avoid is an ending that evokes one of two reactions:

  • “Is that it?” aka “The author has failed to resolve the questions raised by the story.”
  • “WTF!” aka “This ending is simply confusing.”

Like Truman Capote said, “Good writing is rewriting.”

Once you have a first draft, the real work begins. This is when you move things around, tightening the nuts and bolts of the piece to make sure it holds together and resembles the shape it took in your mind when you first conceived it. 

In most cases, this means reading through your first draft again (and again). In this stage of editing , think to yourself:

  • Which narrative threads are already in place?
  • Which may need to be added or developed further?
  • Which need to perhaps be eliminated altogether?

write a short piece of creative writing about a student brainly

All that’s left afterward is the final polish . Here’s where you interrogate every word, every sentence, to make sure it’s earned its place in the story:

  • Is that really what I mean?
  • Could I have said that better?
  • Have I used that word correctly?
  • Is that sentence too long?
  • Have I removed any clichés? 

Trust me: this can be the most satisfying part of the writing process. The heavy lifting is done, the walls have been painted, the furniture is in place. All you have to do now is hang a few pictures, plump the cushions and put some flowers in a vase.

Eventually, you may reach a point where you’ve reread and rewritten your story so many times that you simply can’t bear to look at it again. If this happens, put the story aside and try to forget about it.

When you do finally return to it, weeks or even months later, you’ll probably be surprised at how the intervening period has allowed you to see the story with a fresh pair of eyes. And whereas it might have felt like removing one of your own internal organs to cut such a sentence or paragraph before, now it feels like a liberation. 

The story, you can see, is better as a result. It was only your bloated appendix you removed, not a vital organ.

It’s at this point that you should call on the services of beta readers if you have them. This can be a daunting prospect: what if the response is less enthusiastic than you’re hoping for? But think about it this way: if you’re expecting complete strangers to read and enjoy your story, then you shouldn’t be afraid of trying it out first on a more sympathetic audience. 

This is also why I’d suggest delaying this stage of the writing process until you feel sure your story is complete. It’s one thing to ask a friend to read and comment on your new story. It’s quite another thing to return to them sometime later with, “I’ve made some changes to the story — would you mind reading it again?”

write a short piece of creative writing about a student brainly

So how do you know your story’s really finished? This is a question that people have put to me. My reply tends to be: I know the story’s finished when I can’t see how to make it any better.

This is when you can finally put down your pencil (or keyboard), rest content with your work for a few days, then submit it so that people can read your work. And you can start with this directory of literary magazines once you're at this step. 

The truth is, in my experience, there’s actually no such thing as a final draft. Even after you’ve submitted your story somewhere — and even if you’re lucky enough to have it accepted — there will probably be the odd word here or there that you’d like to change. 

Don’t worry about this. Large-scale changes are probably out of the question at this stage, but a sympathetic editor should be willing to implement any small changes right up to the time of publication. 

write a short piece of creative writing about a student brainly

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Short Stories

Welcome to the University of Gloucestershire Short Story website

Here, we showcase all the work of our talented UoG students, and we also offer sixth formers and college students the chance to submit their writing to us. We’ll look at every submission, offer helpful guidance, and choose the best ones to publish on our site. At UoG, our students are mentored by professionals across the creative writing fields to hone and expand their skills in poetry, playwriting, prose, and critical writing.

We’d love to read your stories if you’re a student here at the University of Gloucestershire, or a school or college student considering a future degree in Creative Writing. We’ll read every submission, and publish the best, and we’ll try to give helpful feedback where we can.  We have limited time and space so please don’t worry if you have to wait a while.

Visit the UoG Creative Writing pages for more information:

  • Creative Writing, BA Hons
  • Creative Writing, MA
  • Creative Writing, PhD

If you are interested in submitting your work for publication here then see our current submission status below:

  • Student Submissions: New UoG student submissions will be accepted from January 1st 2020.
  • 6th form submissions:  Submissions open.  New stories will be accepted throughout December 2019 and January 2020.

You can find further information on submitting your work at


by Thomas Bennett of John Kyrle sixth form. This was one of two stories shortlisted from our schools’ competition, July 2020. Commander Jeffrey Noble collapsed to the ground. He’d manually prised open the enormous weight of the shuttle door, designed to be moved by powerful—now broken—motors. His hand instinctively came to hover over his eyes. So long had Noble stared into the emptiness of space that the explosion of colour and light that stretched before…

by Finlay John of Wyedean School. This was one of two shortlisted stories in our schools’ competition, July 2020. It was another day walking down the road for Mitsuki. The wind softly brushed her hair as she walked home alone. She was independent and self-reliant. Her eyes invited friendships, but she never allowed them. In her house, a group of people were making themselves at home. They were people she’d seen around the town: a…

The Deadly Song

by Iris Davies In a world with a famous and legendary song which no-one dares listen to and is known to cause the listener to commit suicide. Antonio, a pianist in New York City, is forced to contemplate the laws of reality. It is known throughout all cultures that the song is deadly. The Greeks called it the siren’s song; the Irish called it the Banshee’s Wail. It is a fact as far ingrained in our…

Sinking Stress

by Alexandra Vyvyan I am 16 years old and I do creative writing for fun, I have had small pieces of writing published and enter competitions irregularly, I write more poetry than anything else and enjoy losing myself in writing.  A teenage girl feels trapped and drowning in the mass of useless information forced upon her. I wondered if anyone else noticed how pretty the sky was today, how the darkness was bright and soft…

Deathlike Sleep

by Caitlin Hasson I’m sixteen years old and doing an English Literature and Language combined A-level at Cirencester college. Edward has lost his prince, his family, and his friends and now wants to take revenge in this reimagining of the Sleeping Beauty story. It was raining. It hadn’t stopped raining for three days. The battle had started three days ago, and it hadn’t stopped raining. The ground was slick with mud, dark with blood, and…

After ten years

by Amber Wright. Ten years after becoming a trusted mentor for a younger student and having to part ways when school ends.  The mentor gets a surprise knock at the door. Jack looked down at me. I could see his eyes watering as he frowned and straightened his oversized puffer jacket in a failed attempt to maintain his “I don’t give a fuck” attitude. The past five years had flown by and this date was…

by James Pearson. 1986. A new beginning for some but an end for others. Cassiel doesn’t know when he begins university (again) that he would be studying the greatest explosion in history- but he is. England is a vastly different place now in 1983, with more riots ruining workers’ rights and unemployment skyrocketing- not surprising based on the corruption that occurs behind the solid aged brick of parliament. Being only two years since the system…

The Team Talk

by Harry Moore. I am H.L. Moore and I am an sports fiction author. The Team Talk is one of my finest pieces of work and will no doubt be a huge box office hit once it hits the big screen. I am soon expected to become a New York Times best selling author. My inspiration is the legendary, creative mastermind Mr Jeff Kinney. The championship playoff final, the game where you end up 170 million pounds…

by Zelma Bowers. My name is Zelma Bowers and this is the first instalment of  a trilogy about mountains. This is a differing topic to my usual books because I usually stick to hills.  Multi-coloured flags fly in the harsh wind. Each thread being pulled in every direction, unravelling the hard work of the local women and dancing up to the highest point on earth. Each thread taken by the wind is a prayer to…

Unknown Abyss

by Lily-Mae Harrison. Being increasingly interested in the flow of order in society, observation of how people adapt to situations has always been a point of interest of mine. But what if you flip the world on it’s head? I’m a sixth form student at Christopher Whitehead with a fascination in the dystopia genre and a passion for creative writing, with an aim to make you question. In this dystopian world, all anyone could do…

Pasta the point of no return

by Rex Daniels. My name is Rex Daniels and this is the first instalment of my pasta themed trilogy. This book explores the dangers of spaghetti and its deeper meaning throughout life. This is my first time delving into the world of pasta because I’m used to more serious topics. Vomit. Disgusting rancid barf. It’s all I can smell. It’s all I can see. It’s all I can taste. It’s all I can feel. It’s…

Salah’s Revenge

by J.C.B. Digger. I am J.C.B Digger and this here is the first introduction to my trilogy of books called “Stories of the Egyptian God”. Speaking from the view of a professional writer I believe this story is truly fascinating. Breaking news! Here we are January 31st, 2019 the last day of the Premier League transfer window, live at the Tottenham Hotspur training ground waiting for a surprise guest to complete his medical assessment and…

When we were released

by Eleanor Diamond. I am a sixth form student who studies Drama (BTEC), Classical Civilisations and combined English Language/Literature. I have mostly been interested in acting for a large portion of my life, however, writing novels or doing the odd piece of creative writing has been a hobby of mine since I first learnt to form a sentence.  Four days. Those I had called friends, comrades, acquaintances, gone. For our whole lives, up until those…

by Eleanor Cottrill. ‘If only’ is a fictional dystopian piece about the possible close future and the ‘end of the world’, however it is based off both climate change and the seemingly insignificant problem of bees going into decline, a brief overview of what would happen if they were allowed to go extinct from the point of view of a teenager who loses the future that the adults around her promised her from a young…

Christmas in the Country

by Carole May. I am a very mature student returning to university after a gap of many decades and fifteen years after retirement. At the start of this course I was worried about working with people who were so much more in touch with education, but have found that working with such clever young people is both fun and stimulating. Their help and advice is invaluable, particularly when it comes to IT. Both my brain…

The Park Keeper

by Joy-Amy Wigman. Joy-Amy is a mature student who has just finished her first year of the Creative Writing Degree. She is an award winning slam poet and runs a monthly comedy night in Cheltenham called Lemon Rocket for which she often MCs. The Park Keeper I stared at the polar bear and the polar bear stared back at me. “You are not wrong Gerald,” I said to him. The mess had started three weeks…

The Devil That Taught Me I Couldn’t Be Loved

by Bethan Manley. Bethan is an English Language and Creative Writing student. She is also a poet with a background in slam poetry and prose. She is a singer-song-writer turned poet so her poems tend to flow and be heartfelt. If she’s not writing you can normally find Bethan anywhere with dogs! This is a prose piece adapted from one of her poems, and suitable for slam prose performance. There are nights when I still…

Out of Office

by Carol Hilton.  Carol is a mature student completing the third year of her BA in 2019.  She is a short story competition winner. Her poetry has been published in previous University Anthologies and magazines such as Snakeskin. Her short play The Waiting Game, has been selected by the Pirate Theatre in Gloucestershire for their showcase event, ‘Pint Sized Plays’. Out of Office From:                    Saffron Walsh <[email protected]> Sent:                     Thursday, 6 December, 2018 at 19:20…

My Name is Harry

by Asha Sutton. Asha is a second year Creative Writing student at the University of Gloucestershire.  Her stories show her passion for social issues and the treatment of the vulnerable in modern society. My name is Harry I swear that’s the man who worked at the local coffee shop. He spilled the sugar on the floor behind the counter, with an “Oh shit” expression. He rattled tall, skinny glasses, or turned on the coffee machine,…

The Simple Days of Chai and Plum Cake

by Oszey Calland. Oszey is a first year Creative Writing student at the University of Gloucestershire.  He has travelled extensively and writes about a wide variety of subjects. The Simple Days of Chai and Plum Cake Mr Ramesh stepped out of the little shop into the intense heat, looking up at the bright blue sky. “Fort Cochin is getting hotter every year,” he thought. “The monsoons will come soon bringing cooling rains. The Indian Monsoon…

The Fulfilment of a Promise

by Rita Bates. RJ Bates is currently working through the Creative and Critical Writing MA. She is a morning person, conscious about eating foods that will fuel her body and mind, but will never give up drinking red wine. She enjoys a challenge, mental or physical and loves people-watching, because sometimes if lucky enough, she witnesses random acts that would otherwise go unnoticed. The Fulfilment of a Promise I loved spending time with Ashanti. She…

Natural Order

 by Carlie Chabot. Carlie is a Canadian student spending a year in Cheltenham to study for an MA in Creative Writing at the University.  She is currently working on a novel about the murder of a young girl and the fallout it causes in small town. It fits within the theme of Northern Ontario Gothicism, and explores death, mental health, and justice. Natural Order ‘I am deeply appreciative of spiders, and everything they do.’            …

The Undertaker’s Coffin

by Ross Turner. I write short stories, novels and poetry. I study Creative Writing at the University of Gloucestershire, and am a member of the Royal Air Force Reserves. The Undertaker’s Coffin ‘Prepare to feed,’ I say. ‘Feed.’ The six Pallbearers are lined up in three pairs. The Uncle and the younger Brother – the two shortest, and therefore the front-most pair – reach into the yawning hearse. They grasp the two nearest handles, on…

by Michael Moore. Michael is a mature student from Canada. He is currently filling his weekends teaching Computer Aided Design and 3-D modelling.  he has been working at his writing for over twenty years. Bubbles She awoke to bubbles.           Tickles and giggles and bubbles and bursts of frenzied fizzy feelings. As if she was about to pop right out of her skin. The tingles touched her smile and drew it wider. She was breathless, flushed,…

In Memory of Casey Philips

by Andrew Lafleche. Andrew is a University of Gloucestershire MA student in Creative and Critical Writing, studying on the distance learning programme, from Canada.  He describes his work as a blend of social criticism, philosophical reflection, explicit prose, and black comedy. In 2016 he received the John Newlove Poetry Award. Please note that ‘In Memory of Casey Philips’ has adult themes including sexual assault. In Memory of Casey Philips “My uncle just moved in,” Casey… logo

What is Creative Writing?

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Written by Scott Wilson

what is creative writing

Creative writing is any kind of writing that employs creative literary or poetic techniques in the service of either fiction or non-fiction writing. It involves original composition and expressiveness of the individual author.

Ask ten creative writing professors what creative writing is, and you’ll get eleven different answers. Turn to the dictionary and the definition invokes invention and incorporation of imagination. But what are the limits of imagination? Where does invention begin?

Every sentence in every work ever written began as an act of creation in the mind of the writer.

Creative writing may be most easily defined by what it is not…

  • Technical writing
  • Professional or business writing
  • Scholarly or academic writing

Creative writing is the entire body of the writer’s craft that falls outside the boundaries of the ordinary.

Yet you will find many entries in the canon of those fields that might also be considered creative writing. No one would consign Truman Capote’s groundbreaking In Cold Blood to the sterile cells of mere journalism. But that haunting novel is unquestionably also an important work of investigative reporting.

So, what is creative writing, if a non-fiction novel of a horrific quadruple murder falls into the same scope as a classic of American literature like To Kill a Mockingbird ?

It has to do with style and art. Creative writing goes to the heart of the individual expressiveness of the writer. It breaks the boundaries of the typical. That’s an exercise of artistic skill that can happen in any topic, toward almost any goal. And it’s the heart of what it is to be a writer, no matter what you write about.

Defining creative writing isn’t easy. Rooms full of the best authorities routinely disagree. But what is creative writing , isn’t the most interesting question to ask here. Instead, we would be best served by asking another:

Why Is Creative Writing Important?

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Storytellers were plying their craft thousands of years before the written word was invented. The creative spark doesn’t belong to words. It may not even depend on language. It draws instead on a deep part of what it is to be human. Invention, imagination, the urge to create… these are all deep and vital parts of the human experience.

Creative writing is important because it is evocative.

That well of creativity flows forth in many arts and forms of expression. But in creative writing it has found a medium where it can be both preserved and shared. It’s a method of human connection that has no expiration date, no geographical or even cultural limit.

Writers touch the souls of their contemporaries first. But like Shakespeare, Wordsworth, and Lady Murasaki, their reach may also span generations.

Creative Writing Fuels Communication in All Forms of Writing

Although fiction is the first refuge of creative writing, that expressiveness serves the purposes of just about any kind of author.

The goals of most other forms of writing are focused on various kinds of literal communication. A journalist seeks to convey the facts and the context of important news stories. Technical writers need to communicate the details of operating programs and machinery, clearly describing all kinds of minute details with zero ambiguity. Business communications are created with a view toward clarity and concision—helping readers get the main points of the piece quickly and without confusion.

Creative writing can also help to serve these purposes.

Creative writing taps into a different level of communication. While it may, and often does, aspire to other goals like offering clarity and detail, it also goes toward developing emotional connection. The reader will take away more than mere words from a piece of creative writing.

Creative Writing is Important For Making Other Kinds of Writing Compelling

Just as importantly, creative writing entertains. In a story about the importance of algorithmic and high-frequency trading, all kinds of technical details must be absorbed to make sense of the issues. Both technological and economic concepts have to be introduced. In a comprehensive article about the subject, readers from outside the field could be expected to nod off about two pages in.

But put the story in the hands of Michael Lewis, and you get Flash Boys , a New York Times Best Seller.

It’s not important that Flash Boys did well because it was entertaining, however. It’s important because the market trends and activities it described have real impacts on many of the readers. Retirement funds, college savings, family investments… all are affected by the story Flash Boys tells. Today, millions of readers who would never otherwise have understood how their investments were being handled can make an informed assessment… thanks to creative writing.

How To Separate Creative Writing From Less Creative Forms of Writing

focused creative writing

In general, it’s safe to say that a piece of writing is creative when it makes use of literary devices such as:

  • Narrative development
  • Imagination and invention

In Cold Blood passes this test due to Capote’s use of characterization, plot development, and world-building. It’s considered today to be a pioneering example of the non-fiction novel, a paragon of the creative writing world.

The original crime reports, local newspaper articles, and subsequent court documents detail the same events with the same participants. Yet they are not works of creative writing. The incident is described in dry, straightforward, technical language. The timeline is linear and offered without consideration of pace or drama.

Both Capote and the authors of those other articles and documents set out to inform. But Capote’s goal was also to captivate.

New Journalism Tells the Story of How Creative Writing Has an Important Role in Non-Fiction

abstract clippings

Books like Wolfe’s The Right Stuff mixed truth and dramatization, documentation and invention, to tell larger stories about serious events. In dramatizing those stories, New Journalism writers also drew more readers and achieved broader awareness of the stories.

At the same time, long-form New Journalism pieces, deeply researched and documented, were able to report stories in depth in a way that traditional journalism often did not. By invoking plot, characterization, and narrative structures, the New Journalists could keep readers involved in long and complex issues ranging from crime to politics to culture.

New Journalism is important in defining what is creative writing because it is clearly an example of both creative and journalistic writing. It demonstrates the ways that creative writing can serve other forms of writing and other kinds of writers.

Of course, it’s also possible to come at the divide from the other shore. Categories of writing that are clearly creative in nature include:

  • Novels and novellas
  • Flash fiction and short stories
  • Plays and film scripts

These works incorporate elements of storytelling that may not always be present in other forms of writing. A newspaper article will often have a setting, action, and characters; creative writing will offer plot, pacing, and drama in describing the same story.

What is Creative Writing Coursework Like in College Degree Programs?

university student on steps at school

All university students are exposed to basic coursework in English language and communication skills. These all go to the elementary aspects of writing—the ability to construct a sentence, a paragraph, a paper. They teach grammatical rules and other elements that make a work readable to any reader of the English language.

Even the general education requirements in college programs touch on creative writing, however. Students may be assigned to write essays that explore creative styles and imagination. They’ll be assigned to read novels and stories that are time-tested examples of the finest kinds of creative writing. And they’ll be asked to explore their impressions and feelings, and to exercise their imaginations and analyze the intent of the author.

Creative writing programs go beyond the basics to touch the imagination of the writer.

Creative writing exists just on the other side of those general English and literature courses. Students in creative writing classes will be asked to take the extra step of creating their own stories using the techniques they have learned.

In fact, they may be encouraged to break the same rules that were so laboriously learned in their regular English writing classes. Creative writing works to allow writers to tap into their own imagination and emotion to forge a deeper connection with readers.

Student Workshops Offer an Interactive Way of Learning What Creative Writing Is All About

Creative writing degrees will go much further into developing a sense of what creative writing is. they continue to include many reading assignments. but instructors also introduce concepts such as:.

Genre is the method used to categorize written works. Creative writing programs explore the tropes and expectations that exist for different genres and deconstruct them for better understanding.

Story structure and form

The structure and form of a novel and a short story are very different. Creative writing programs explore different formats and how they impact creative storytelling.

Plot is not a universal feature of creative writing, but a good plot can make or break a creative work. Classes look at the features and composition of plot, and also teach plotting.

Voice, tone, and creative expression all come out of the narration of a piece of creative writing. Creative writing courses explore both the textbook forms of narrative and show how to use it to serve plot and story.

Style and rhythm

One clear feature of creative writing in all genres is that it rests on a sense of rhythm and of styling that other types of writing ignore. Many courses found in creative writing degree programs explore the ways in which writing style serves story and hooks the reader.

In addition to formal classes, students will better learn why creative writing is important and the purposes it serves through workshops. These informal gatherings are designed to foster discussion, to present examples of different types of writing, and to critique and hone individual creative writing skills .

Through that process, creative writing degrees help students better identify what creative writing is and how to use it effectively.

Creativity is Important No Matter What Your Career Goals in Writing May Be

dedicated student at coffee shop studying

Creative writing training allows writers in any genre to develop more complete, more meaningful, and more memorable ways to get a point across. Using the skills and techniques learned in creative writing courses can inject humor, gravity, and other sensations into any piece of writing. And those very techniques can improve concision and clarity.

Figuring out what creative writing is and what it is not, is the first thing you should leave behind in a writing career. The dry definitions of the dictionary or droning English professors are the last place you should look.

Creative writing is the process of engaging your imagination and talent to serve the purpose of whatever piece of writing you are working on. And that’s why creative writing is important.


  1. 11 Plus Creative Writing Tips: Student Sample Story by Shreeya

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  2. Short Story Examples

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  3. creative writing piece

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  4. Creative Writing Topics for Grade 5

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  5. Creative Writing Pieces

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  6. Creative Writing Story Starters for Students

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  1. Meeting With Thesis Advisor

  2. A poem about my time at the University of East Anglia (UEA)

  3. Akiel Chinelo

  4. Tony Deyal

  5. My day as a Creative Writing student 🧚🏼‍♀️ #ditl #study #creative #writing #shortvideo #shorts

  6. Iowa Writers' Workshop Student Jessica Laser Reads a Poem


  1. Write a short note on Creative writing?

    Creative writing is an invigorating way to express thoughts, feelings, and ideas in a manner that goes beyond factual reporting or professional instruction. It involves creating engaging narratives, descriptive pieces, poetry, or even a personal diary. The process often starts with brainstorming or freewriting, followed by multiple stages of ...

  2. 8 Tips for Getting Started With Creative Writing

    Action: In creative writing, action should occur for a reason—characters' actions should be based on their motivations, their points of view, and their previous choices. A protagonist's actions should always propel them toward their main goal in a way that is related to the plot events at hand. A character's goals affect their character ...

  3. How to Run a Creative Writing Class

    A creative writing session should always include actual writing and, if possible, the sharing of students' work (more on which later). Fitting everything in, including stating your aims for the session, doing some warm-up writing exercises, having a 10-to-15-minute writing burst and still have time at the end for people to read aloud, needs ...

  4. What Is Creative Writing? The ULTIMATE Guide!

    The dictionary definition of creative writing is that it is original writing that expresses ideas and thoughts in an imaginative way.[1] Some academics will also define it as the art of making things up, but both of these definitions are too simplistic in the grand scheme of things.

  5. How to Write a Short Story from Start to Finish

    A short story word count normally falls somewhere between 1,000 words and 10,000 words. If you're over ten thousand, you're running into novelette territory, though some publications consider up to 20,000 words to be a short story. If you're under a thousand words, you're looking at flash fiction.

  6. How to Write a Short Story: Your Ultimate Step-by Step Guide

    1 - You learn the skill of showing. Short story writers have a challenge that requires some patience to overcome, but it's worth it. When you only have a few pages to hook readers, paint a clear picture of the main character, and tell a story, you end up mastering the skill of showing instead of telling.

  7. Creative Writing

    The eight elements of creative writing that are used in short stories and novels are character development, setting, plot, conflict, theme, point of view, tone, and style. Some of these elements ...

  8. 10 Types of Creative Writing (with Examples You'll Love)

    A lot falls under the term 'creative writing': poetry, short fiction, plays, novels, personal essays, and songs, to name just a few. By virtue of the creativity that characterizes it, creative writing is an extremely versatile art. So instead of defining what creative writing is, it may be easier to understand what it does by looking at ...

  9. Creative Writing Skills: 6 Lessons You Need To Teach Today

    Creative Writing Skills #2: Precise and Concise Language Choice. Now that your students are learning to slow down and offer descriptions in their writing, it's time to help them focus on their word choice. Diction is immensely important to a writer-especially when storytelling gets more advanced.

  10. Five Things I Learned in Creative Writing Class

    5. Right place, right time. Perhaps the best lesson I gleaned from creative writing class was that I was in the right place at the right time. This was a feeling that came from within, a certainty that I was doing exactly what I was meant to be doing. The semester that I took a creative writing class was packed with odd coincidences and epiphanies.

  11. creative writing

    Introduction. The term creative writing means imaginative writing, or writing as an art. The primary concern of creative writing is not with factual information or with the more routine forms of communication ( see writing,communication by ). It does, however, use many of the same skills.

  12. 33 Creative Writing Prompt Ideas for Students

    2. Boost Your Students' Self-Confidence. Creative writing is also a great way to boost a child's self-confidence. The very act of putting words down on the page shows kids that what they have to say matters—and that their thoughts deserve attention. Furthermore, writing prompts are a fun way to showcase to students how everyone can have a ...

  13. How to Write a Short Story in 9 Simple Steps

    Know what a short story is versus a novel. 2. Pick a simple, central premise. 3. Build a small but distinct cast of characters. 4. Begin writing close to the end. 5. Shut out your internal editor.

  14. Short Stories

    Short Stories. Welcome to the University of Gloucestershire Short Story website. Here, we showcase all the work of our talented UoG students, and we also offer sixth formers and college students the chance to submit their writing to us. We'll look at every submission, offer helpful guidance, and choose the best ones to publish on our site.

  15. An Exercise in Compression

    The students will then create a new timeline of a longer time period. Nonfiction students may opt to write a timeline of their lives; fiction students may choose the life of a character, or the imagined life of a friend or family member. Students will then workshop in the same groups, this time providing comments that are evaluative and critical.

  16. 4 Ways to Help Students Write Routinely

    Strategically choose texts to model skills and strategies. Picture books, first pages, high-interest excerpts, examples of creative author's craft. Talk about the choices an author makes stylistically and how those impact readers. sentence structure. mid-action entry points. playful dialogue.

  17. What is Creative Writing?

    Creative writing works to allow writers to tap into their own imagination and emotion to forge a deeper connection with readers. Student Workshops Offer an Interactive Way of Learning What Creative Writing Is All About. Creative writing degrees will go much further into developing a sense of what creative writing is.

  18. Brainly

    Get personalized homework help for free — for real. Join for free. Brainly is the knowledge-sharing community where hundreds of millions of students and experts put their heads together to crack their toughest homework questions.

  19. A Complete Guide to Writing Creative Nonfiction

    Written by MasterClass. Last updated: Sep 29, 2021 • 5 min read. Creative nonfiction uses various literary techniques to tell true stories. Writing creative nonfiction requires special attention to perspective and accuracy.

  20. Write an analysis of your creative writing piece or of ...

    Analysis of a Creative Writing Piece. To conduct an analysis of a creative writing piece such as a play, short story, or essay, one must consider the author's choices in various domains. These choices are made to serve specific purposes, such as praise, mockery, or mourning.