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Short Story and Poetry Writing Tips

SHORT STORY

                                                                                                                                       POETRY

 

- Be precise and to the point

When writing a short story, be precise and to the point. Don’t write long descriptions, use small descriptive words instead. Keep the interest of the reader by making your story fast paced and flowing from one paragraph to the next with no feeling of interruption.

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- Have a theme

Like with any other piece of writing, your short story, too, should have a message or theme. Make sure that every word you write is related to this theme.

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- Keep your short story “short”

A short story is supposed to be “short”. Keep the time span short – covering a single momentous event, or a single day in the life of the main character.

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- Use of dialogues in short stories

Use dialogue in your short story only if it contributes to the main focus of the story. Don’t use it to just pad out your characters.

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- Create conflict in your story

Create conflict in your short story. Conflict is what keeps your readers glued to your story wondering what will happen next. This conflict may be of the protagonist against an individual, against the society, against nature, or even against himself or herself.

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- Don’t have too many characters

Don’t have too many characters in your short story. Each character brings in a new dimension to the story. Having too many characters will bring in just as many aspects, which will only create confusion and dilute the theme.

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- Choose settings carefully

Choose the settings of your short stories carefully. They must be normal places where readers can imagine themselves.

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- Catchy first sentence

Short stories need to start close to their end, so write an unusual or unexpected first sentence to catch your reader’s immediate attention.

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- Use of imagery

Capture the reader’s interest in your short story by creating vivid imagery. Imagery (symbols, metaphors, similes, etc.) helps the reader better grasp the character’s feelings and thoughts. It also helps connect the reader to the the scene and the story.

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- Portrayal of characters

Portray your short story characters through their actions and reactions, not by literally telling your audience what the characters are like.

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- Substitute descriptive details

In your short story, instead of giving information about places or things, write from the point of view of the characters as they experience them.

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- Read good poetry

The key to writing good poetry is to read good poetry. Read all kinds of poetry - love poems, lyrical poems, haiku poems, narrative poems, sonnets, free verse and so on - out loud, listen to the sounds of the words, let the thoughts sink in and touch your senses. This trains your brain to pay attention to every little detail and helps you learn to write good poetry. 

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- Word sounds

When writing poetry, it’s not just enough to see if the words rhyme, or when it’s free verse to just string the words. What is important is the sounds the words make.

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- Each line must belong to the poem

Each line of your poem must belong to the poem. It should fit smoothly with the rest of the poem in intention, tone and rhythm. If it does not, try rewriting it.    

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- Theme of your poem

Don’t mention the theme of your poem by word. Instead, write around your theme using metaphors to get to the core of your idea.

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- Do not give meaning to your poetry

Do not attempt to give meaning to your poetry. Just express your thoughts, leaving a few things unsaid, others unexplained. Leave the rest to your readers. This is the main difference between prose and poetry. Prose is expository, while poetry lets the readers decide for themselves.

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- Let the words flow

Do not be afraid of writing bad poetry. Just be yourself and let the words flow. Taking risks is what leads to great poetry.

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- Use plenty of imagery

Use plenty of imagery in your poems. People tend to forget words, but images sink deep into the minds. The image may be funny, dramatic, devastating, inspiring, melancholy, or just about anything. The more vivid and well formed the image, the better the image sticks.

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- Stanza breaks

Stanza breaks in your poetry should depend on the development of your theme. Let the breaks come naturally as the poem is formed (like paragraphs in prose). In case you want to have an equal number of lines in each stanza, organize your thoughts beforehand. Or, first write the whole poem with no stanza breaks, and then go back and make adjustments in order to give the right breaks.

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- Be careful with rhymes

If you want your poem to rhyme, be very careful. Very often the meaning changes when words are substituted for the sake of rhyme. Let the words come naturally. If you still want a rhyming word, use a good Thesaurus.

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- Use concrete words

Use concrete words and not abstract words in your poems. Concrete words help the reader get a picture of what you are writing.  For example:

He was happy…..  Can be improved as –                                                            His face lit up brightly …….

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