The Essentials Of Freelance Short Stories: Writing For Beginners

You’ve got a short story to write, and you’re not sure where to start? Don’t fret! You’ve come to the right place. The five hints below will give you the basic idea when tackling an assignment like this.


The structure of a brief narrative can be explained in four parts. First the exposition, which is essentially character and scene setting. Secondly the rising action, which is where the conflict is introduced and culminates at the climax. Thirdly the falling action, and fourthly the resolution.

Word Count

This is one of the most important factors to consider, even before beginning, when you are first planning your story. If the word limit is 400 words, your story will be significantly different from a story which is capped at 4000, and yet both would be considered short stories.

Stories of this nature generally follows this rule of thumb: The first part (exposition) is about a quarter of the word count, the second (rising action) two quarters, the third (falling action) an eighth, and the last (resolution) is an eighth. So if your story has 400 words, the parts will be approximately split as 100 + 200 + 50 + 50.

Well-rounded Characters

Although this needs to be done quickly, it’s still very important that your characters are believable. Get to know your character’s hopes, dreams and motivations before you start getting them down on paper and they will seem more real to your readers.

Show, Don’t Tell

Describing a character in words is less believable than when they are described in actions. For example, instead of writing that John is brave, in your story you need to give him a chance to show how brave he is. This way you give the reader a chance to interact with your writing in realising that John in brave.

Point of View

You need to decide if you will write the story as though you are one of your characters, or as though you are watching one of the characters, like a fly on the wall. For example:

First person: I released the pigeon into the air.

Third person: Malia released the pigeon into the air.

Both points of view have merit, and it depends on the kind of story you are wanting to write and the kind of experience you want your reader to have with it. For example, a first person story has the ability to suck your reader right in; to give them insights into character and emotion which is more difficult in third person. However, if your character is not very curious, observant, or self-aware, this might not work particularly well.