Tips for Writing a Short Story
I'm thrilled to have Linda Carroll-Bradd here with me today. She's a talented author of over sixteen published books and novellas. She's kindly agreed to pull up a chair with me and share both her tips for writing short stories and an excerpt from her new release. I can't wait to read her stellar advice on a simple way to plot a short story. If you've been waiting for an easy to understand guide to the short story, you've come to the right place.
Monique: Welcome, Linda! So thrilled to have you here.
Linda: Thanks, Monique, I'm happy to be here.
Monique: First can you share your tips for writing a short story with us. I don't know about the rest of you, but I can't wait! Then will you give us a peek at your new release: Unlocked Treasure?
Linda: Several months ago, I took an online class in writing a short story. My purpose in taking the class was to get fired up to write to a specific deadline. I’d been procrastinating and needed the push because I wasn’t getting a handle on my story. Besides the push, I gathered a few tips I wanted to share. As with every class I take, I tweak the info to fit my own needs.
In writing short shorts (5K words), the set-up is fairly easy—First meet, Refusal, Second meet, Acceptance. In that length, the story should be immediate and take place within a very short time frame. Look too easy? Really, the structure is just a skeleton but you figure that each of those steps can only take approximately 1,250 words (which is 5 pages), and writing that suddenly becomes manageable.
No need to write out long character biographies or go into detailed research on a particular setting. The focus will be tight on the characters and their involvement, but that has to happen somewhere. And you’ll have to provide a sense of the type of personalities these characters have. One of my go-to ways for characterization is to rely on an archetype from The Writer’s Guide to Heroes & Heroines by Tami Cowden, Caro LaFever, & Sue Viders. To kick off the plot, I toss in a couple standard romantic tropes (Reunion, Woman in Jeopardy, Baby on the Doorstep, Revenge, Amnesia, Seeking Justice, etc.) and then I flesh out the specific details unique to this couple.
For anyone wishing to have a copy of the template, go to this FOLDER on Dropbox.
This method has served me well over the past few months as I’ve used the template to write and contract three stories that were accepted into anthologies: Bewitching Gypsy in Spooktacular Seductions releasing 10/31; Wanderer, Come Home, in Cowboys, Creatures and Calico, Vol 1--available now; and Clari’s Hero in Present For a Cowboy, coming for Christmas.
Earlier this year, I wrote a story that includes genealogy, broken engagement, pirate history, yachting, treasure hunting, ancient maps—my research was all encompassing. Only when I focused on the elements described above did the story and the interactions between the characters come together. That became Unlocked Treasure, a contemporary novella with Halloween-themed events released by The Wild Rose Press.
Will a prophecy keep a lonely woman from accepting the promise of adventure?
Aleen MacRae blames the lure of the sea for breaking apart first her family then her engagement. When her interest is caught by a treasure-seeking man, she resists—afraid to believe in her aunt’s prediction that her future is tied to the sea. Braden Williams is tracing his heritage and the pirate treasure linked to his ancestor. Will Aleen play things safe or accept what this free-spirited man offers?
Ah, the story of her life—practically invisible. The reminder his first sighting had been of her bikini-clad backside made her blush. Still didn’t change the facts. Aleen squared her shoulders. “I remember, but the Manor grounds are still closed.” Should she be nervous about being alone with this stranger, especially one who ignored posted rules?
“Sorry for the intrusion. Let me start over.” Smiling, he approached and extended his right hand. “My name’s Braden Williams.”
Aleen bit her lower lip, but accepted his hand. “Pleased to meet you. I’m Aleen MacRae.” At the moment their hands clasped, she felt warmth flooding her fingers. With a jerk, she released her grip, tingling sensations running along her skin. Immediately, the scent of fresh air and summer breezes wafted her way. Definitely a man of the sea. Just where I foretold your future lies. Whispers of her great-aunt Zsofika’s prophecy trickled through Aleen’s thoughts. At the memory, her cheeks flamed with heat.
“Wow.” Frowning, Braden flexed his hand and narrowed his gaze then dropped it to his flexing fingers. “That was bizarre.”
“Static electricity, from all that wind yesterday.” A reasonable explanation. In the back of her mind, Aleen could hear Zsofika scoff, “Static schmatic. A connection like that is destiny.”
“Well…” His gaze searched her face. “Aleen—hey, that’s pretty, like the direction alee.” A wide smile exposed even teeth.
Her own smile dimmed. Like I’ve never heard that before. “Thanks.” This guy was not charming his way around the rules. “Sorry, but you’ll need to come back when the gardens are open for visitors. That’s Wednesdays through—”
“Yeah, I read the sign.” He gave a dismissive wave then turned to gaze back at the main house. “But I just needed five minutes to check out some dimensions and the lot layout.”
“So, you woke up this morning and just decided to start out your week by trespassing?”
As a child, Linda was often found lying on her bed reading about characters having exciting adventures in places far away. As an adult, she discovered romance books and read them at every spare moment. Upon reaching a landmark birthday, she decided to write one of those romances she loved so much. Easier said than done. Perseverance paid out and twelve years later, she received her first call from a publisher and a confession story was published. Now Linda writes heartwarming contemporary and historical stories with a touch of humor and a bit of sass, and many have a tie to her previous home of Texas.
Linda currently lives in the southern California mountains with her husband of 35 years and their two much-loved dogs, Shiba Inu Keiko and terrier mix Phoenix.
Linda's hiding places: