Main Page Go to Short Stories Go back to Articles Go to Comics Go to Continued Series Go to Editorial Go to New Series

Show All | Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8 | Week 9 | Week 10 | Week 11 | Week 12 | Week 13 | Week 14 | Week 15 | Week 16 | Week 17 | Week 18 | Week 19 | Week 20 | Week 21 | Week 22 | Week 23 | Week 24 | Week 25 | Week 26 | Week 27 | Week 28 | Week 29 | Week 30 | Week 31 | Week 32 | Week 33 | Week 34 | Week 35 | Week 36 | Week 37 | Week 38 | Week 39 | Week 40 | Week 41 | Week 42 | Week 43 | Week 44 | Week 45 | Week 46 | Week 47 | Week 48 | Week 49 | Week 50 | Week 51 | Week 52 | Week 53 | Week 54 | Week 55 | Week 56 | Week 57 | Week 58 | Week 59 | Week 60 | Week 61 | Week 62 | Week 63 | Week 64 | Week 65 | Week 66 | Week 67 | Week 68 | Week 69 | Week 70 | Week 71 | Week 72 | Week 73 | Week 74 | Week 75 | Week 76 | Week 77 | Week 78 | Week 79 | Week 80 | Week 81 | Week 82 | Week 83 | Week 84 | Week 85 | Week 86 | Week 87 | Week 88 | Week 89 | Week 90 | Week 91 | Week 92 | Week 93 | Week 94 | Week 95 | Week 96 | Week 97 | Week 98 | Week 99 | Week 100 | Week 101 | Week 102 | Week 103 | Week 104 | Week 105 | Week 106 | Week 107 | Week 108 | Week 109 | Week 110 | Week 111 | Week 112 | Week 113 | Week 114 | Week 115 | Week 116 | Week 117 | Week 118 | Week 119 | Week 120 | Week 121 | Week 122 | Week 123 | Week 124 | Week 125 | Week 126 | Week 127 | Week 128 | Week 129 | Week 130 | Week 131 | Week 132 | Week 133 | Week 134 | Week 135 | Week 136 | Week 137 | Week 138 | Week 139 | Week 140 | Week 141 | Week 142 | Week 143 | Week 144 | Week 145 | Week 146 | Week 147 | Week 148 | Week 149

Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 23rd day of Swimming, Yr 20
The Neopian Times Week 21 > Articles > Short Story Writing Workshop

Short Story Writing Workshop

by shidi

As a professional (and often published in The Neopian Times) writer, I am frequently Neomailed with questions about how to write well, or how to refine one's writing skills. Because of this, I have put together this three part writing workshop to help aspiring writers hone their skills.

Everyone (yes, this means you!) can write a short story. The key elements to short story writing are an imagination and an idea. Harnessing the powers of your imagination can be easy if you know how. This simple step by step guide to short story writing can help you realise your writing potential.

Step One:

Determine your Skill Level:
A basic understanding of grammar and tense is very important to the short story writer. Spelling skills help keep your words in order. If you are good at the language arts, spelling, and grammar- you've got it made. If not, well, the question becomes:

Can you Fake It?
With the aid of spell check, grammar check, and a thesaurus, you can make your writing skills go further. A thesaurus is a wonderful tool for any writer- and can help you replace trite, tired words for more interesting ones. This does not mean, however, that you should string fifteen adjectives together with no point or reason like a lovesick Lupess description on the role-playing chatboard. Ugh. A general rule when writing anything is no more than two adjectives per noun. You do remember those parts of speech from English class, don't you?

Step Two:

Setting the Scene
Setting is very important to any story. The setting elements include location, time, and such external influences as weather and temperature. Determine where your story will be set. Perhaps the Lost Desert? Or the top of Terror Mountain? The setting will influence many elements of your story, from characterization to plot.

Creative Characters
Choose interesting characters and develop their personalities to make them seem like real people. Two of my favorite characters are Franco and Smedley, the mad scientists who appear in my Harry stories ("A Grarrl Called Harry" and "Harry Halloween"). Franco has a slushie addiction, and Smedley has all the warm personality of a porcupine on a bad quill day - but this makes them very interesting as characters. Think carefully about your characters, and jot things down about them. Ask yourself some questions about them, such as:

What do they wear?
What do they like to do?
How do they act towards others?
What are their goals and dreams?
What are they afraid of?

Even if the information you uncover isn't useful in the story you're writing now, save it. You never know when a character may become a reoccurring figure in your fiction.

The Plot Thickens
Plot drives the story along - it is the action that makes reading worthwhile. Without plot, you'd have a bunch of characters sitting around in a beautiful setting doing nothing. You must think of a good plot for your story, or it's not a story at all. The plot of my aforementioned short story ("A Grarrl Called Harry") can be summed up in this sentence:

A lovable Grarrl breaks out of the experiment lab of somewhat bumbling mad scientists Smedley and Franco to start a new life and forge his own identity.

Your plot should be able to be summed up in a sentence, whether it is as simple as "A Kacheek wants to buy a Usuki doll, but has to work to get the NP" or as complex as "Rex the wonder Lupe saves Neopia through a series of trials and tribulations involving the quests of several faeries and bargaining with Dr. Sloth - and finds true love along the way."

Step Three:

Story Soup
When you combine your setting, characters, and plot - you get a story. Always begin with an interesting sentence that will catch the reader's attention. Make sure to keep the characters consistent throughout the story. If it is not within your character's personality to save the Kacheek from a burning building, don't make him do so just to further the plot. Work around it in an alternate way. Make sure the plot includes both conflict and resolution. Unresolved endings that leave the reader hanging can be fun for the author - but very frustrating for the reader. Give your audience at least a clue or two as to the outcome of the story's conflicts. Examine how your plot moves along to make sure it makes logical sense. In the Harry story, my plot moves as follows:

Reader is introduced to the Grarrl and his living conditions
A fight between Franco and Smedley occurs
The Grarrl uses the opportunity to escape
Franco and Smedley get very angry
The Grarrl finds a Chia and follows her to an inn
The Grarrl eats the inn's sign
The innkeeper takes the Grarrl in anyway, and gives him a name.
The Grarrl questions his identity, and comes to terms with his past and present.

Notice that these plot points all include action of some sort, and occur in a logical sequence. This is very important to the continuity of the story.

Edit, Edit, and Edit!
Check over your story. Make sure to look for the following: Tense. Your story should not jump from past tense to present tense for no logical reason. Unless you are doing flashbacks or other effects, pick a tense and stick to it. Make all verbs in that tense.

Spelling and Grammatical errors
Spell check and grammar check will help you here. After you have spell and grammar checked, give the piece to a friend to double-check for anything it may have missed.

Write a creative title that says something about the theme of your piece. A Grarrl Called Harry was chosen as the title for my story because how the Grarrl was named "Harry" was the focal point of the story itself. Try not to use generic boring titles like: "A Lupe Story" or "A Chia's Tale" or "My NeoPets at the Park".

Step Four:

Submit your short story to The Neopian Times by e-mail as an attached document with all the formatting put in (bold, underline, etc.) where you want it. Make the subject of your e-mail something that describes why you are e-mailing, such as: Short Story Submission .If you have any pictures that illustrate your story, send them in a .gif or .jpg format as attachments, also. Write a polite, spell checked, well written note in the e-mail that includes the following:

A polite greeting
Your Neopets username
A brief note about the theme of your story (Example: In All about Aisha, a young Aisha learns the true meaning of friendship and has an amusing adventure along the way)
A closing which thanks the editor of the Times for reading your work and considering it for publication .

If you are published - great! Be sure to tell all your friends to read your new short story.

Oh, no! Your story wasn't published! Don't worry, it's not the end of the world. Most writers have a long stack of rejections that far outweighs their publications - especially when they are just getting started. Don't give up! Try rereading the story to see if there were any obvious errors you missed (unsuitable topic, bad grammar/spelling, unclear wording). If you find errors, rework it and submit the new and improved version.

Also, remember there is only so much space in the Times for short stories each week. If other people submitted similar stories the same week or if they were simply out of room, your piece may not have been chosen. Perhaps the story had an unclear plot, or had grammatical errors. You can try sending a polite Neomail to the editor asking why your piece was not published - maybe he'll even give you a few hints for improvement.

As with all things, practice makes perfect. You can be a short story writer- don't give up! I hope this article has been helpful to you. If you have any questions about the content of this article, please feel free to Neomail me.

Week 21 Related Links

What is Fetch!?
How do you play it? What is the purpose of the game?

by natie218

Search :
Other Stories

The Ultimate Pastime: The NeoPets Chatting Board
Immediately, I found myself in a sea of friendly people...

by icecream_sundae

The Ever Shapeable Chia
Ever mistake a Chia for a fruit? No? I have, and... what? No... well, yes, it is actually funny!

by chikisan

Reasons to Collect
It sounds odd, but there are some really good advantages to collecting.

by silver

The Reason Behind the Rampaging: An Interview With a Wandering Ghost
Reporter pythonaddict812 was released in the small hours of Friday night to discover the real story...

by pythonaddict812

Neopets | Main | Articles | Editorial | NeoMarket
Short Stories | Comics | New Series | Continued Series | Search