Monday, 18 March 2013 15:02

English Matters – Creative Writing – Short Stories

Written by  Kimberley Pounder
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haunted_houseOk, so you have a short story assignment due… and soon! You need emergency assistance to disencumber* yourself of the dreaded ‘writer’s block’! Read on for some practical tips to get you started…

 

 

*CAMI Vocabulary Tip!

Disencumber

This means to relieve of burdens or hardships

 

Use the following steps to plan your short story:

 

  1. Who is your main character and what does he/she want? The best stories employ ideas that are unique. Choose an unusual protagonist or plot.
  2. What events or actions take place to drive the rest of the story? Has the protagonist been faced with questionable situations?
  3. There should be consequences as a result of the events/actions. Unexpected consequences make for more interesting reading. Does your protagonist make more choices that lead to more consequences?
  4. Who does the protagonist drag into their story? Are there already characters that have created the conflict for him/her or that will drive the plot to a resolution?
  5. Think about what details you need to tell the story. Things you may not need to include are long travel scenes or characters retelling events to other characters when the reader has already been party to the scene. You should ask yourself if what you have written adds to the overall story and if it is relevant.
  6. How does the story end? What significant choices and actions does the protagonist make? Ideally, your reader shouldn’t see it coming (whilst maintaining plausibility!) however this isn’t an absolute necessity. What is necessary is that your reader cares about the climax of the story.

 

Tips and Techniques to Boost your Creativity!

 

  1. Read lots! You will get loads of ideas from other writers, not just for plotlines but also for vocabulary, techniques and ways to structure your stories.
  2. Practice writing examples of the first sentence of a story. Aim for the most interesting and attention-catching lines! Then develop these into a first paragraph.
  3. Know more about your characters than you will write about in your story. This will ensure a multi-faceted and more realistic character. Look at the list below for ideas:

 

Name

Pets

Age

Religion

Job

Hobbies

Ethnicity

Relationship status

Appearance

Any children/dependants?

Residence

Temperament

Favourite colour

Something they hate

Friends

Secrets

Favourite foods

Strong memories

Phobias

Illnesses

Faults

Nervous gestures

 

In order to ensure good character development you need to tell the reader about the following:

  • Appearance
  • Actions
  • Speech
  • Thoughts

 

  1. Use meaningful dialogue – make what the characters say to each other come to life by including information about their body language or tone when they talk.
  2. Include details that inform the reader about time, location, context and atmosphere.
  3. Use senses in your story telling:       sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell.
  4. Use unusual similes and metaphors… avoid the clichés!

 

 

The following is a great site for Kindergarten to Year 6 students who might be stuck for ideas for a short story. Just pull the lever and the ideas simply roll up!

 

http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/story-starters/

 

This is the story I came up with:

 

story_starter

 

Then you can go on to the next stage and choose format for your writing:

story_starter_next_1

 

Time to write!

 

story_starter_next_2

 

We’d love to read your short story work so please send any in to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it !

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