Developing a Character

With a short story, developing a character is one of the most crucial aspects. You don’t have a lot of time to go into a person’s back story, or for the reader to get to know them, so you need to get them on their side as quickly as you can. There are several ways that you can go about developing character, and we recommend incorporating all of them to some degree. Below are some of the ways that you can develop the characters in any short story.

Appearance – First and foremost, give the reader something to picture when they think of your character. How old are they? What color is their hair? How do they dress? Simple things like this will allow your reader to form an image in their mind while they are reading. Don’t go into too much detail however, as you want to leave something up to the imagination. Just enough description so that they can distinguish the different characters from one another in their own mind’s eye.

Background – How a person got to where they are says a lot about them. We are a result of all of the decisions we have made in our life, and each one of them is important. You don’t have time to list everything that has happened to your character throughout their life, so just pick out an important few. Knowing what a character has gone through will help your readers to relate and understand why they make the decisions that they do while they are reading the story.

Relationships – How does your character interact with others? Are they nice? Are they racist? How they treat other people says a lot about them, and can help your reader to get a better idea as to what your character is like. Don’t keep your character in solitary confinement the whole time, as letting them talk with others is a great way to show more about them. (And if your story is about someone in solitary confinement, maybe your character can think back to a time when they did interact with other people. These tips can be bent to suit your needs!)

Inner Monologue – Lastly, how does your character think? How are they perceiving the situation they are in? Do their actions match their thoughts? The best way to understand someone is to get inside their head, and you can do that for your reader. Let us hear what they are thinking about and we will have a better idea as to who they are as a person.

Building a character can be tough, but if you use the tips mentioned above in different ways, you should end up with a character that is believable. If you can do that, then your readers will feel a connection with that character, no matter who they are or what they are doing.

For more information, here is a short Youtube video with some helpful advice:

Short Story Writing Tips

"Creative" by Janpha Thadphoothon.Original uploader was Janpha at en.wikibooks - Transferred from en.wikibooks; transferred to Commons by User:Adrignola using CommonsHelper.(Original text : Janpha's Photo Collection). Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Creative” by Janpha Thadphoothon.Original uploader was Janpha at en.wikibooks – Transferred from en.wikibooks; transferred to Commons by User:Adrignola using CommonsHelper.(Original text : Janpha’s Photo Collection). Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Are you feeling stuck with your short story? Not sure how to go about writing it? Don’t worry, we have you covered. While we can’t write the story for you – what fun would that be? – we can at least offer you some short story writing tips that will help you out.

1. What’s The Point? – First, think about why you are writing this story. For most short stories, there is a message or theme to go along with them. With longer novels you can delve into character development and exciting plot lines, but with a short story you have a limited amount of time. Think about who is going to be reading this story, and what you want them to get out of it. It doesn’t have to be some grand, insightful idea, as something simple will do. Just don’t waste the readers time with something pointless.

2. Protagonist – Who is the main character of this story? What are they like? You won’t have a lot of time to go over their history, so you need to make it clear who this person is in as few a words as you can. Also, every good short story as a character that the reader can relate to, or root for. Try not to make all of you characters jerks that no one will like.

3. Desire – Just like in real life, each person in your book should want something. It doesn’t have to be something big, like conquering the world, they just need to have some desire. Even if it just for a nap, desire in characters makes them easier to relate to.

4. Use Your Words Wisely – As we have said already, with a short story your words are limited. In longer books you can take your time to describe a scene, but you don’t have that luxury with a short story. With each sentence you should either be revealing something about the character or moving the action along. There is no time to waste.

5. Start at the End – If you want a story to cover the span of a couple of years, go with a novel. Short stories are meant to take place over at most a couple of days. You want to start your story as close to the end of it as possible.

6. Have One Reader In Mind – When you are writing your story, think of one person and one person only. Who is the person in your life that will be reading this story first? Your husband? Wife? Mother? Brother? Best friend? Whoever it is, keep them in mind while you write and try to please them. If you try to please everyone at once, you won’t get anywhere.

Crafting a short story can take a lot of time, even though they are not as long as books. There is a lot that goes into cramming a story into such a short period. Hopefully with the tips above you will be able to get started on your short story, and turn it into something that you love. Good luck!

Scent-sational Scents and Carrying Them Over into a Story

One of the biggest challenges for a writer when trying to develop a story is how to invoke the sense of smell. We strive for readers to see the events as they unfold, and often times how a scene smells is especially relevant to the story line. The trouble is finding the right words that are not vague, but rather getting specific about the scent.

We underestimate the power of scent in our daily lives, until suddenly touched by it. For example, the smell of Old Spice will conjure images of my father immediately, while the earthy smell of potatoes always makes me think of Thanksgiving dinner.  Use that type of imagery to enhance your storytelling. For example, if you wanted to describe a man wearing a certain cologne, smell it and make note of the first words that come to your mind. These are the words that will invoke the feelings you are trying to inspire in the reader.

whiteAdjectives are critical in creating smell with words, and should be used extensively. Say you are recreating a scene where your heroine is shopping for essential oils. She will pick up a floral lavender oil, one that is lemon fresh and a third that is musty oregano. As the reader you are able to sense the calming effect these essential oils and their scent has when she uses them in her scented oil diffuser lamp. Wisps of gray smoke gently fill the room with the wild floral scent of lavender.

You can also use nouns if the smell you want to describe is similar to something else, such as rain or strawberries. This technique can easily help to set a scene using the reader’s sense of smell. There are a hundred smells that pass you by daily, that immediately invoke feelings of something else. Use those feelings to transform your story into a magical journey that places the reader right in the middle of it.

Verbs are used to describe how a scent makes it to your nose. They can hint of something sweet, permeate a smoky room, or conjure the past. Verbs will push the story forward using the scent.

Think about what feeling the scent invokes and try to use that feeling to make it clear. Smells can be soothing, natural, and even startling. All of these descriptive words will bring substance to your story telling in the form of clean, crisp scents.

In order for a story to be compelling you need to hit upon all of the senses. Sight and sound are easy, but the sense of smell can be difficult to master. Yet once you do, your stories will benefit from it.