Simply put, fictions are stories we make up in our imaginations or events we concoct in our minds. The characters, themes and settings are invented by the writer.
Sometimes we may choose to write on something that happened somewhere in the past and decide to embellish it. In forming your story, if you are not writing a mythical tale then it must have life-like details.
Do not say because you are writing fiction you tell us that the cockroach was carrying nine months pregnancy and your househelp killed it or your dog stood up and tied a wrapper on itself. Anything you form in your mind while writing a regular fiction should be believable and things that cant happen in real life.
Types of Fiction
We have three types of fiction, but i’ll be emphasizing on one.
- Short Story; A literary work of 1,000 to 20,000 word count with one major theme and few characters
- Novella; A literary work of 20,000 to 50,000 word count with a complex theme and more characters.
- Novel; A literary work of over 50,000 words, this is more complex than a novella. A novel can have more than a theme with well developed characters, it can be as long as the writer desires as it does not have any restrictions.
A short story is an aspect of fiction. It is a work of limited length and usually focuses on one theme, few characters are used. Modern short stories are usually written in a special structure, the story begins in the middle of the action and the end is usually abrupt.
A short story has word restrictions of 1,000 to 20,000 characters. I’ll break the word usage down.
1,000 to 4,000story book of this word count is called a short story
20,000; A book of this word count is also called a short story
Less than 1,000; While a book of this word count is called the flash fiction or short short story
This is a story that has a maximum of 500 words. The writer has to contain all the idea into 500 words. The end here is usually abrupt
History of short stories
The short stories have been in existence from the ancient days and could be found in ancient literature. History says short stories were transferred orally from a generation to another.
This aspect of fiction was used to write mythic tales, folk tales, legends, fables, and fairy tales.
Characteristics of short stories
1. It should have one central theme;
If you are talking about domestic violence in your story, stay on it and concentrate not moving from domestic violence to fuel scarcity.
2. Limited length;
One should be able to read the story at a sitting, it should not be so long that it would take a whole day.
3. It should be brief;
Stick to the word count and avoid unnecessary diversions, so it shouldn’t be too long
4. It should have few characters;
This means you can’t overcrowd a short story with too many characters. It can have max of 5 characters.
5. Not every character gets a voice;
Meaning not everyone in your story should talk. Here’s an example;
- Chloe passes the Postman without greeting.
The postman is a character mentioned but he did not speak.
6. Don’t be the grand narrator;
You should allow your character to do some talking. Don’t write like you are telling a story, cause only you will start and end the story. Let your characters talk, it tends to give your story a more realistic and thrilling read. Here’s an example;
- Chloe hurriedly crossed to the other side of the road and greets the postman
You are the grand narrator here
- Chloe hurriedly crossed to the other side of the road,
“Hello.” She greets the postman
Here you are giving your character a voice
: Word count
The word count is the number of words in a text. In writing fictions, one of the rules you have to adhere to is the limitations in word count. When the restrictions given to a writer is disregarded, his/her work is considered disqualified.
Tips on how to compress a story exceeding the desired word count
In writing a short story, words exceeding the requirement is a very common situation. Here are some tips to help you compress your work and get you back on track. This can be done in two ways
1. From your story
- Reduce scenes.
Instead of writing a scene to explain some points, you should sum it up in a few lines of dialogue.
- Reduce characters.
Short stories should have a limited number of characters. When your work is getting too lengthy, cut off unnecessary characters.
- Reduce settings.
Have you written a scene where an extra character is giving his/her life history? Cut it off.
- Do not write subplots.
Short stories focuses on one central theme. Do not divert to a subplot as there won’t be a space for it. Stick to the main theme.
- Reduce your timeframe.
You can fit moments into a short story, but writing a lifetime history would not be as easy. When you are given a theme, write on the present or the past and do not divert. You can not write a short story on what is yet to happen
- From your writing
- Eliminate redundancy.
Yes! The power of expression usually makes you want to write and write, but in a short story it’s a No. Avoid excessive usage of language and cut off unnecessary lines.
- Simplify your style.
With less expressions you may think your work is losing it’s thrill, but you won’t get marked down for it. The aim here is to get an idea down using the least amount of words possible.
- Replace descriptions with nouns.
Have you expressed someone’s height as a tower in some foreign land? Well, a noun should come in here to replace that.
- Keep your details.
Do not cut off the meaningful parts in your story to compress it. Do justice to every detail.
- Reduce your introduction and conclusion.
Keep track of your introduction and conclusion as these two surprisingly takes a lot of space in a short story. You would not need to give your reader all the hints, let the thrill be with them down to the last page
- Avoid repetition.
Have you mentioned that your character is hot tempered? A reminder is not needed
Lastly, make your short story fun..
I always say this, my word usage in a short story is restricted, but my creativity is never restricted. So do justice to your work, don’t make it boring because of the limits stated.
If you can recall some books from elementary or tales read to you at bedtime, these stories are short stories or mini fictions.. Make sure your work is thrilling and use the least number of words you can.