Your standard short story focuses on a single conflict, employing a quick-paced narrative. The story frequently begins right in the middle of the action to grab the reader’s attention with the very first paragraph. Creating an outline of your story before you commence writing can help you keep it focused and prevent it from going off on tangents. The story needs to cover only a short time frame. There is no way you can fit a full coming of age story into this format.
Character development needs to occur during the action of the story. There’s no room for you to introduce your characters to the reader leisurely. The protagonist is already off and running on their adventure right from the start. You need to try to convey information about your characters using descriptive writing. Rather than stating who the role is and what they’re doing, push your story forward, employing meaningful dialogue and descriptive sentences. As opposed to the book: Johnny and his mother fought about eating dinner all the time.
You might write something like:
Johnny pushed the dinosaur-shaped chicken nugget around using slim fingers, creating a work of ketchup art on the now soggy paper plate. “But I’m not hungry,” he whined, even though all he’d had to eat that day was half of a graham cracker along with a nibble of banana.
If you do not have conflict, you do not have a story. Going to the beach, sunbathing, having a picnic lunch, and watching the sunset could make for an enjoyable day, but it is a boring read. Something needs to happen. In addition to your protagonist, your story needs someone for them to work against; the antagonist. The antagonist should be continuously thwarting the protagonist’s progress toward his ultimate objective.
The biggest thing you should try and do while writing your story is to make every single word count. Engage the reader from the beginning with an intriguing conflict, and send them on a journey with a fascinating character. Maybe most importantly, reward the reader with an ending to remember. A happy ending is always sweet, but an unhappy ending could be even more memorable.