3 Tips on Writing Short Stories + 26 BONUS Prompts— Writing short stories is like riding a bike. Part of it can be taught, while the rest is just something a person picks up along the way. Like a lot of things, however, it’s important to remember that developing a child’s writing abilities requires practice.
A student’s level of creativity won’t matter if he or she doesn’t know how to express those creative ideas on paper. Likewise, an inexperienced writer doesn’t know how to avoid mistakes, create interest or inspire certain emotions in his or her readers. So when teaching young students how to write good short stories, it’s important to emphasize certain concepts and techniques as they practice their writing skills.
Tips for Writing Short Stories
Tip #1: Simplicity
First of all, let’s remember that a short story is meant to be short. It should have only one setting, a limited number of characters, and a straightforward plot. Moreover, a good short story also needs to say a lot of things using a limited number of words.
Unfortunately, many young and inexperienced writers will attempt to include too many elements at the start of their stories. This is a mistake because the more characters and elements you have at the start of a particular story, the more difficult it will be to finish writing that story later on. Therefore, when teaching young writers how to write a good short story be sure to emphasize the virtue of simplicity.
Tip #2: Explain the Story’s Background
One of the most difficult challenges of writing a short story is that you won’t be able to build up the background of the characters and the plot. As this is the case, it’s important to teach your students how to explain a particular character’s background, motivations, or history using a limited number of words.
To do this, it’s important to emphasize what is relevant and meaningful to the story. The student should also be reminded of the overall theme and plot of the story to avoid making any unnecessary subplots that will not benefit the story.
It’s also worth pointing out that a young writer might be tempted to write jokes, make political commentaries, or add some dramatic scenes to the story. Although there’s nothing wrong with these literary tools, they should only be added if they serve the overall story. Otherwise, it’s best to avoid them altogether.
Tip #3: Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment
It’s important for teachers, parents, and educators to remember that there are plenty of techniques and styles for writing short stories. The general style of writing a short story usually involves writing in the third or first person, explaining or narrating a particular event or story.
However, there are many other techniques for writing a short story. For example, you can encourage the student or child to write a short story in the form of letters between the different characters. Likewise, the child should experiment with writing a short story from the first, second, and third-person points of view. And if the student likes a particular author, try to encourage him or her to imitate that author’s writing style for certain stories, just to see if he or she is comfortable with it.
26 Short Story Prompts
One of the best things students can do to hone their story-writing skills is to practice doing it. Make practice a bit easier with these short story prompts.
- It’s the night before your birthday party, but suddenly you have the job of saving the world.
- A girl is babysitting and snooping around the house. She finds a secret door in the kitchen and decides to open it.
- At an airport, a stranger offers you money if you’ll carry a package on the plane with you. You could use some extra spending money, so you agree.
- A girl who is very poor discovers a huge fortune in her back yard. Tell the story of what she does with it.
- A person from history travels to today to get something back that belonged to them. What happens?
- A young boy has always wanted to find aliens and prove they exist. How does he search for them, and what happens when he finds them?
- Someone cast a spell on you and now strange things are happening. What was the spell, and how is it affecting your life?
- Write a story about a young girl or boy who went to school one day and found that their school now included animals that could talk. What happened that day?
- The teacher takes attendance and discovers there’s an extra student in the classroom. Who is it and why are they there?
- A painter decides to travel to another planet to find new colors. Write the story of their journey and the colors they find.
- Write a story about making a choice between two very different and strange schools to attend.
- You steal what you thought were the answers to the next test, but you find that it’s actually an application to join a secret school club.
- There’s a secret message on your shampoo bottle when you shower and you have to investigate what it means.
- You find a newborn baby at the local park. It looks like a newborn, but you discover that it can talk.
- Your character is out canoeing on a lake, and suddenly the canoe gets a leak.
- You’re walking along to school and two giant fingers grab you and drop you off on a big boat. What happens?
- A boy finds an abandoned go-kart with the keys inside outside his house. He gets in and heads off on an incredible adventure.
- You wake up one morning and you can’t hear anything, but you notice that you can see things you’ve never been able to see before.
- A girl gets up to go to school. But when she looks in the mirror, she’s suddenly 10 years older.
- You make a pact with an alien to trade bodies and lives for one day. What happens when you become an alien for a day?
- A comic book hero visits your house, and they need you to help them.
- All dogs have suddenly gone extinct except for two. Your character has been charged to guard the last two dogs.
- One night you get up for a drink of water and you find your mom and dad sneaking out of the house in black clothing. Where are they going and what are they going to do?
- Suddenly, you find that you’re invisible and you don’t know how long this will last. What do you do while you’re still invisible?
- Johnny was playing a video game, and suddenly he’s in the middle of the game himself.
- You and your two best friends are suddenly thrown backward in time by 200 years. What happens?
Experimenting with different writing styles will help them find a writing style that they are comfortable with. Once that’s done, the student will have an easier time practice writing short stories.
Short Story Writing Resources & Links
- 30 Short Story Ideas for Kids
- Short Story Prompts for Elementary Students
- 4 Elements of Great Short Stories
Until next time, write on…
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