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How To Write A 1000 Word Short Story

How to write a 1000 word short story

Whether it's called flash fiction or micro-fiction, a short story that's only 1000 words long is indeed short. Most short stories have the luxury of being longer, in the 2000 to 5000 word range or so. A 1000 word short story is ultra-short in comparison. So how do you put what you want to say into such a small package?

What is a short story?

A short story is a view of a short period of time. The time frame and location of the piece should be narrowed. There's just enough space in 1000 words for one plot, a couple of characters, and one or two locations.

Characters

Keep the story to no more than three characters. There won't be very much room or time for character development, so the fewer the number of characters, the better. Longer fiction has character arcs, which allows the reader to see a character go through time from a beginning to an end. Fiction this short only shows the end. The focus should be on one character, but two characters will give you a protagonist (the main character) and an antagonist (the second character).

The scene of the action

Because of the length limit, your short story can't have a complex world or big backstory. Try focusing on one scene in the life of your main character. It should be a significant moment for them. One scene and one moment probably also means one location, or at most a couple of them. There isn't time for the logistics involved with having your character move around to several locations. Any transition between locations should be quick.

Conflict

All stories involve a character who needs or wants something and how they overcame an obstacle to get it. The obstacle is, essentially, the conflict. What the character wants can be a number of things, for example an idea (or ideal), or a physical object. The obstacle can be an antagonist, something internal to the character, or something like a principle or law. The story then provides the answers to what the character wants and what is in the way of them getting it. This action should be the focus of the story.

Keep it simple

Use the conflict and other ideas to tell your story, but keep it simple. Identify the most important and meaningful part of the story and then build the rest of the story around that. Show what happens; tell the story through action.

The theme

The "moral argument" should be the theme of your story. It's the message you want to give your readers. The way the protagonist acts and the choices that they make, how they overcome the antagonist, plus the outcome of the story, all show a world view that reflects a set of morals.

Structure

Even a story this short still needs a structure, a beginning, middle, and end. The beginning is developed by the middle, which builds tension and reaches its climax at the end, which is followed by the conclusion. Try not to spend too much time in the beginning, where the development takes place. Start the story as close as possible to the point which drives the action which follows. The character then faces obstacles and makes minor gains while reaching the climax of the story, which leads to the story's resolution and conclusion.

Word choice

With a limit of 1000 words, you need to choose them carefully. Needless to say, choose the least amount of words you can that still communicate the actions and ideas that are the meat of the story.

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