Exercises to Improve Your Shorts

Splickety Magazine’s editor Ben Ehrlichman shares Exercises to Help You Write Flash Fiction:

With a little hard work and some good editing, your story could be something worthy of publication some day. Here’s what to do:


1. Create a compelling character to star in your short story. Is he the protagonist? Is he the villain? Write a detailed description of him/her, then choose only the most important, interesting features to highlight in your story.






2. Pick a setting. Describe it like you did with your main character, then choose select details to showcase in your story. Remember: your readers are creative, imaginative people (whether they think so or not). They will fill in the blanks as they read.




3. What’s the problem? No, seriously. What’s the problem your character is facing? Remember, shoot for internal and external. How can you show that in as few words as possible without sacrificing your writing quality? Go ahead, give it a shot now. You can always tweak it later.


4. Don’t forget your plot: beginning, middle, end. Figure these out as specifically as you can, then fill in the missing parts. Remember that these are moments of action in your story–that is, something has to happen.


5. Inject conflict into your story. Make people angry with each other. Make them have opposing goals (i.e. a villain and a hero often have contrary goals). Tension makes your story more interesting and more publishable.


6. Give it to a test reader (with a keen eye), a critique partner, or to a critique group. Use the feedback you like, and ignore what you don’t. Then submit it for publication; be sure to follow the guidelines with precision.


Take a shot at it and when you’re done, submit it to Ben, (or another short story magazine), but don’t forget to check out their guidelines first. Here’s SPLICKETY’S: Submission Guidelines.


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