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Writing a (very) short story. Point me in the right direction?

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Hello, all. I'm looking for advice on writing a short story - I barely know where to start, in many respects. I'd greatly appreciate any fingers pointed at answers that may be sitting around in the internet. To be a little more specific, I should note that I have quite a few constraints about the plot, and would like to point out that characters will be taking a back seat to the events and plot. This is, in essence, a murder mystery with specific plot points I must stick with, and I'm experiencing the same sort of trouble that I usually do: I have a hard time inventing a story without it seeming invented, and this is the major issue I'm concentrating on. And before anyone suggests it, I do know where Google is. I'm asking if you've found any sites in the past that offer particularly useful, lucid, and on-topic advice. Thanks in advance (unless you're unhelpful. Then I scold you in advance!)!

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About the only advice I can recommend for the information you've given is to write your story. Just get something down on paper/electrons no matter how contrived it seems to you, and then get people to read the story and tell you what's wrong with it, and then fix those problems. Rinse and repeat until story seems to pass muster. The key point here is to get the people reviewing your story to give you concrete criticism. E.g.: this plot point feels contrived because of such and such.

Keep in mind that just getting something, anything, down on paper puts you ahead of at least 25% of prospective authors.

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Well, the opposite of it seeming invented would be it seeming real. So I would guess you should, maybe in the editing phase, concentrate on adding sensory details that pull the reader into the story world, and also making sure the dialogue and possibly the narration has personality appropriate to which character was speaking it. This is done both through word choice and through varying sentence structure, and using sentences which are the way people talk even though they're not so gramatically correct.

Other than that, whose opinion is it that your stories seem contrived? Because the writer tends to always notice the structure of their own stories more than other readers will, and it's not really possible to evaluate your own stories objectively.

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Quote:
Original post by Avatar God
...and would like to point out that characters will be taking a back seat to the events and plot.


I was just writing about something similar in a different thread, and thought I'd add my opinion here too ;) .

I think the quote above might be a good place for you to adjust your approach and make your story less "invented". The reader doesn't identify with plot points - they identify with characters. No matter how short the story is, it must be relevant to the reader and that means telling the story by events that happen to, of because of (or ideally both), the main character. Your job as the writer is to figure out how to use those great plot points or actions scenes or lines of dialogue you've got in your head, and make them all take place around one central character. Damn tricky, but that's what'll make your stories real and engrossing for the reader.

And, as SiCrane says, there's no substitute for actually getting stuff written. At least then there's something to build on.

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Neat! Thanks, guys.

It is mostly me who thinks it seems invented (because, of course, it is). But I notice this in other people's stories, as well, and would like to avoid the very annoying pitfall.

I'm doing my best to work the characters into the story, but it's a bit tough (I've got external constraints on this one!). I think I'm going to have to rely more on the sensory details and dialogue to get this done well.

Looks like I need to get to writing - but I still lack some of the information I need to complete it. At the least, I'll lay down the major steps and draft out what I can. And, in all likelihood, post it here at some point. Thanks!!

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