How to write a good short story:

  1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
  2. Give the read­er at least one char­ac­ter he or she can root for.
  3. Every char­ac­ter should want some­thing, even if it is only a glass of water.
  4. Every sen­tence must do one of two things—reveal char­ac­ter or advance the action.
  5. Start as close to the end as possible.
  6. Be a Sadist. No mat­ter how sweet and inno­cent your lead­ing char­ac­ters, make awful things hap­pen to them-in order that the read­er may see what they are made of.
  7. Write to please just one per­son. If you open a win­dow and make love to the world, so to speak, your sto­ry will get pneumonia.
  8. Give your read­ers as much infor­ma­tion as pos­si­ble as soon as pos­si­ble. To hell with sus­pense. Read­ers should have such com­plete under­stand­ing of what is going on, where and why, that they could fin­ish the sto­ry them­selves, should cock­roach­es eat the last few pages.
1900s · 2000s · advice · American · Author · list · storytelling · Writer · writing

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