How to write a great short story!
|Photo by Julien Tromeur|
Short stories need all the same elements as a novel in order to make it truly a story and not something else. (See Part I). But you're going to handle those elements quite differently in a short story than you would with a novel.
Today, let's talk about the setting. Just as it is important for the reader to get to know and love the main character right away, they also need to know where and when the story is taking place. I know I find it frustrating to read halfway through a short story with no clue even what the time period of the story is! You need to ground the reader in the world of the story from the very first paragraph, if not the first sentence.
However, in the small space of a short story, you do not have room for long descriptions of the setting. Nor is it wise to info-dump on your readers. The trick is to choose the little, telling details that open up the world for the reader without bogging down your prose. Is the character using a cell-phone? Riding in a buggy? Traveling in space? What is the character wearing? How do they feel about their surroundings? It's the small details that will pack the most powerful punch in establishing the setting in a short story.
Because everyone likes to dwell in a different world from their own, even for just a little while!
(If you're interested, check out Part I and Part II of the series.)