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The Ten Commandments For Writing Divine Short Stories

July 31st, 2020

I’ve been wanting  to play God ever since I watched Bruce Almighty. I’m delighted to say the day has finally come. So, here is my Decalogue to write divine short stories.

1) You shall write

I can hear you shriek “really, Mr. God?” Although being obvious, it can be challenging. Write daily if possible, even just a couple of lines.

2) You shall read

Explore different authors and various genres. Learn from the masters. Above all (to me, at least): Ray Bradbury, The Illustrated Man; Stephen King, Everything’s Eventual.

3) You shall hook

Captivate your reader’s mind with your very first sentence. Start with a striking statement or an intriguing dialogue line. This is even more imperative for flash fiction (less than 1,000 words).

A goodbye kiss and a wristwatch. That’s all Theresa’s parents gave her before drenching themselves in gasoline and lighting a match.

4) You shall show rather than tell

He was scared” becomes “He paled, his eyes widened and his hands trembled”.

Adverbs inflame the evil “telling”, so please use them SPARINGLY.

5) You shall give details

The hotel was in the city centre” turns into ”The Grand Budapest hotel was on the high street, just opposite Tesco”.

6) You shall not use cliches

Cliches are the demons of the lazy writer. Resist the temptation to write mass-produced, evergreen expressions and your story will be AS GOOD AS GOLD.

7) You shall not change the point of view (POV) in the same scene

If you choose to narrate your story using the third person POV, you can read one character’s mind at a time within the same scene. Unless you opt for an omniscient POV, if you want to “hop into” another character’s brain you’ve got to have a scene break.

8) You shall compose realistic dialogue

“What’s the name of your post, Antonio?”

“The 10 commandments for writing divine—”

“Are you a priest or something?”

“It’s about writing short stories, Luke.”

“Short stories…”

Contract, interrupt, trail off.

9) You shall end your story

You might know the Latin adage “dulcis in fundo”. It means the best comes at the end. And it is true for stories. Don’t let your readers down by not ending your story. Quench their anticipation with an unpredictable but clear end.

10) You shall beg for feedback

My very last (but far away from being the least) recommend is hunting for feedback. No feedback, no growth. Friends’ feedback is fine (especially for your ego) but, ideally, you need professional support (e.g. The Writing Bureau, The Flash Fiction Magazine). However, if you’re skint, Scribophile and the Critique Circle are valuable free alternatives. You gain some credits (and skills as well) by critiquing other writers’ stories. Then, you invest your token to post your piece, which will be critiqued by other users.

Oh, forgot to mention the golden rule: “You shall never give up”.

Blissful writing everyone!

 

Antonio Salituro is a creative writer who crafts short fiction pieces. One of his flash fiction stories was published on this blog.

You can visit has website at https://www.salixwriting.com/

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