Regulations and bases
If we are fond of writing and we want to submit one of our stories to a contest , logically we have to consult the rules and regulations very well. We may have some texts already written that we can fit in, but it is best to get into the project by creating something from scratch. Some contests have a specific theme and others are free, but surely all of them will mark the word limit. The short stories have about a thousand words and the short stories from one thousand to seven thousand. Taking this into account before starting will help us to do a good planning of our writing.
If we are studying a literature degree, presenting ourselves to these competitions will be very useful to improve our creativity and our writing. If we are simple amateurs, we can also do it. A write properly learn writing and reading and that will be very useful for any student who wants to get a eTítulo university. An academic work will be better if it is well written and many of the competitions that are organized have very attractive prizes.
The first and most difficult step
The idea. Whether the contest marks the subject or not, we are going to have to think about what our idea is and how we want to develop it. Perhaps, when we start writing, we will come up with new plot twists, a different ending or we will see that the perspective of one of the characters that we had considered secondary is more interesting. Does not matter. It is our creativity that will lead the way, but it is equally important to start writing with planning and knowing what we want to tell, even if we still don’t know how to tell it.
Short stories should tell a simple idea. An action, a memory, something that happened in the supermarket, etc. No complex plots, no convoluted stories, so we must look for inspiration in something that does not require excessive development.
It may be enough to go out for a walk to find the muse. Looking around us we will see that reality offers the most incredible stories.
Sometimes we sit in front of the computer or in front of a paper with the idea of starting to write and the hours go by without us knowing how to start. Ideally, in short stories, the story begins when the action occurs. A shocking principle that places the reader in the middle of something: an embarrassing situation, a battle at the front lines, an argument between neighbors, the precise moment in which we realized that we did not want our partner …
If we don’t start with the writing, let’s take the idea and start simplifying and summarizing it. It is simply a matter of throwing out individual sentences until we can spin the story together. You have to get to the heart of the matter; to the precise moment when events occur and start from there.
Beware of over describing
How do we put the reader in a place without previously describing it? Short stories are not a novel. You don’t have to create a world based on descriptions to place characters to whom things happen. The story, on the other hand, should not pay too much attention to descriptions of places. You have to be able to express in a few words where the action is taking place and let the reader’s imagination fill in the gaps.
Neither should emotions or mental wanderings be described in detail. It is about synthesizing what we want to evoke in a few words and the descriptions must be part of a subtext, allowing the environment to be glimpsed but not dwelling on it. The best advice when ghostwriting company is to avoid adjectives as much as possible.
What must be counted are the actions that may be of interest. Let’s look at a bad example:
Marco always came back from class through the shortcut in the woods. Today’s classes had passed so slowly that he was exhausted and unmotivated. Autumn had turned the previously weedy ground bright green into a fluffy carpet of leaves in hues ranging from yellow, red, and brown. The last rain was still in the air and Marco loved the smell of wet earth, but that day he was upset because the humidity had penetrated his navy blue canvas shoes and his feet were cold and wet. He quickened his pace. He was, as always lately, thinking about what had happened to Lucas. How could he just disappear? What would have happened? Would they ever find it? Would I still live? In these musings he was when he heard a strange noise very close to him.
Are we interested in the color of the leaves? Not at the beginning. Are we interested in humidity? It doesn’t have to. Are we interested in the material or the color of Marco’s shoes? Neither.
In this second example we are going to tell the same thing, but synthesized:
Marco, as always, had taken the shortcut to the forest to return home. The classes had been soporific. His slippers were becoming soaked and his feet were beginning to feel cold. He quickened his pace. Lately she hadn’t gotten the hang of Lucas. What would have become of him? Would I still live? The strange sound caught him out of the blue and before he could turn around, he received the first blow.
As we can see, we can imagine the situation practically the same, especially if we consider that the important thing for this story would be to narrate the two unknowns that arise: what happened to Lucas and what is going to happen to Marco. And it wouldn’t even have to be that way, we can say nothing about Lucas and tell what happens to Marco, leaving the other to be suspended or for some events to tell us the others. Therefore, stopping to describe is unnecessary and causes the narrative to slow down.
In short stories not everything fits
In fact, almost nothing fits and hence its grace. No more than two or three characters to whom something happens that happens in a short period of time and with a single location or two at the most. What is important is that we maintain the structure: middle, plot and outcome.
If we want to talk about someone being upset or sad and if that is not the core of the story, instead of telling why, it is better to show that they are. We cannot fill a short story with flashbacks or the musings of the characters because we would leave the extension. Sometimes it is not necessary to understand why someone feels in a certain way, we are only interested in seeing that.
The supermarket cashier wouldn’t stop crying. And it wasn’t a restrained cry, but a real tantrum with baby howls (if babies had baritone voices) and shortness of breath. The lady in front of me in the queue offered him a handkerchief, but the man rejected it with a brusque gesture and continued passing the products through the reader while the poor woman’s purchase was dripping with tears, snot and drool. When my turn came, I felt so bad for him that I unintentionally started crying too and, as if by contagion, the rest of the line soon followed me.
In this example, the important thing is not why the cashier is crying and we don’t need to tell it. What matters are the consequences of crying.
Play with the reader
We must maintain the suspense until the end, make good use of the little space we have with very well chosen phrases and words that evoke the images we want to convey. You should not drop all the information from the beginning, but gradually reveal it to get hooked.
The title should also be taken care of and serve to illustrate some of the text that may not be perceived until it has been fully read.
It is very important that the ending presents an unexpected twist or something surprising. If the outcome is shocking, our story will be remembered.
You have to let it sit for a day or two to see it with different eyes and then read it aloud again. This helps us to detect errors more easily.
Now we can focus on eliminating everything that we can do without. When a phrase does not add anything special, it is deleted. If there are dialogues, let’s check that they are short and relevant; if not, we delete them. When we can add more tension or surprise, let’s do it. Short stories should be powerful.
If we have an objective reader to critique us before submitting it, so much the better.
Above all, we must ensure that there are no spelling errors and that the punctuation is correct.