How to Write a Short Story in Middle School

27 DEC 2021

You’re staring at a blank sheet of paper. You need to write something - anything! - but the ideas are nowhere to be found. Sound familiar?


Never fear, for although that blank piece of paper may seem intimidating, writing a short story is quite simple if you follow these six steps!


How to Write a Short Story in 6 Steps


1) Brainstorm   –  Stephanie   Meyer’s   famous  Twilight  series   began   with   her imagining two people in a field, one of them sparkling in the sun. While it does not sound exactly like the vampire young adult franchise we know of today, the whole story started with this one concept. If you have an idea, take it and roll with it! Put it down on paper and expand it using tools that work for you, like graphic organizers, drawings, outlines, doodles, songs, anything! Using the five senses is a practice   our  Crimson   Rise  strategists   often   use  with   students   in   creative writing sessions, and it’s a fantastic way to get your brain’s creative juices flowing!


2) Lay down the basics –  You’re probably  familiar  with the basics   of  “who, what,   where,   when,   why,   and   how”   that   you’ve   learnt   in   literature   class while analyzing pieces of text. Try to reverse engineer the process and come up with these for your short story before you write in the details. Who are your main characters? What happens in the story? Where and when does it take place? Why is there conflict in the story? How does the story progress in terms   of   beginning,   middle,   and   end?   This   is   also   a   great   time   to   decide where   you’ll   publish   the   story   (is   it   a   school   assignment   or   a   fun   TikTok challenge?) and what perspective you want to write it in (first person, third person, etc).  


3) Avoid cliches! – Storytelling has been a part of human tradition since prehistoric   times,   long   before   we   had   social   media,   libraries,   or   even   books! While a lot of ideas have been used and reused over time, try to put your own, original spin on things. If you like science fiction, try to create your own race of aliens! Fancy a realistic story about students at a school? Don’t make your characters perfect, look around your own environment for inspiration and let your imagination embellish it a bit. Art imitates life after all! Also, make sure your   main   character   has   a   distinguishing   feature.   You can try closing your eyes and imagining a   part   of   your   short   story   as   a   movie   scene; make sure that your audience can determine who the main character is even in a crowd of people. Whether they have an animal side-kick or a specific hairstyle, having a distinguishing feature will make your main character instantly recognizable. 


4) Show, Don’t Tell! – For example, if your main character’s best friend is popular and has a great sense of humor, try to avoid writing that “Bob is popular and has a great sense of humor”. Instead, try showcasing Bob doing things, like telling great jokes at the lunch table (and you should make up and include these jokes in your writing), which is very crowded because everyone wants to sit at the same table as Bob! This is the difference between a mediocre writer and an excellent writer. By   showing   Bob   in   his   natural   element,   telling   jokes   and   surrounded   by friends (including descriptions of how these friends react to his jokes), your story will seem more vivid and immersive. 


5) Draft, Revise, Repeat -  Now that you know what your story will be aboutand have figured out  the direction in which to take it, pen it down! Whether you’re writing it in a notebook, typing it up, or recording it as an audio first, make sure to put in that drafting time. It might take some discipline to write up the story   without   distraction; in fact, our  Crimson   Rise  strategists    would recommend   using   time   management   techniques   such   as   the   Pommodoro

technique to ensure you stay focused.   Once   you’ve   written   the   draft,   make   sure   to   double   check   it   for spelling, grammar, and any stylistic errors that you can improve upon. As two pairs of eyes are better than one, try asking a friend or teacher to read it over for you. Once the story is edited, go back and polish it up until you’re happy with it. Sometimes writers find themselves having   to   go   through   a   few   drafting   and   editing   cycles   before   they   get   a product   they’re   happy   with,   but   make   sure   you’re   reasonable   about   the amount of time you’re devoting here. For example, a second edit if your short story   is   for   an   English   class   grade   is   a   fabulous   idea,   but   you   don’t   need twelve edits if it’s a story you want to put on social media to share with your friends as it’s supposed to be for fun!


6) Publish  –   Now   that   you’re   planned,   written,   revised,   and   rewritten   your

story, it’s time to publish! Take the story you’ve written and share it with the world. Whether it is on social media such as Tumblr or Archive of Our Own, both   popular   places   for   young   teens   to   publish   their   stories,   a   school newspaper, a literary group, or even emailed to your friend... you’ve put your voice out there to be heard. Well done!


And there you go! By following these six simple steps, you can easily have a short   story   that   can   help   you   explore   a   hobby   further,   develop   your   English language skills (writing will be a part of your university application, after all!), as well as give you something worthwhile to pursue over the summer holidays! Just remember, your voice deserves to be heard and every famous author was once a   beginner   storyteller   too.   JK   Rowling’s   famous  Harry Potter  series   began   as notes   written   on   coffee   shop   napkins,   and   she   persevered   after   being   turned down   by   publisher   after   publisher   and   look   at   where   she   is   now.   If   writing   is something you enjoy, don’t give up because who knows what doors this skill may open?


Your friendly neighbourhood Rise blogger, 

Gala

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