How to Start a Short Story

First, start in the middle of the story. Provide your characters with responses, feelings and thoughts. Make your characters active, not passive- meaning they do things, have actions, not just talk or think.You also need to provide specific details that mean something in the story. Lastly, but most important what does your character want? Need?

Fear is a great place to start a story. A character who is genuinely terrified is the best place because the reader is going to be terrified as well.

Sex is also a good way to begin a story. But who are they? Where is this taking place? On an airplane? On a roller coaster? In bed? On the floor? And what does sex mean to them?

If you’re having trouble starting your short story, use writing practice. Writing practice is a way to get to your unconscious, the place where your creativity lives. If you don’t know how to practice writing practice it goes like this:

Put the arm you don’t use to write behind your back. This is your editor arm. Next put a pen or pencil in your writing hand and begin to write never stopping to edit. Editing kills creativity and you certainly don’t want that.

Sue Powers has had many stories published. Her favorites are Saturday Evening Post, New Millennium Writings, Blue Earth Review, Adanna, Funny in Five Hundred and Another Chicago Magazine. She is now teaching Writing the Short Story via email.

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