Writing a Short Story

After the advice given to you in Are You a Good Story-Writer?, here you have part two of the series.

We all love stories. They thrill us, entertain us, make us laugh and take us to places we could never go otherwise. However, getting your readers’ attention is not always easy; we live in a fast-paced world where readers don’t want to waste time on a slow, uninteresting story. Nothing will kill your story like an opening that doesn’t make people want to continue reading. That’s why you need a hook in your story, to catch (or hook) your readers’ attention.

This time, we are going to start a story using a hook, choose one of the hooks below and think of some ideas of what could have led to his situation and what happened afterwards:

1. I’d been driving for an hour before I noticed the sound of breathing coming from the back seat.

2. When Lydia opened the door, she couldn’t believe her eyes. ‘Thomas, is that you’, she said, ‘I thought you were dead!’

3. ‘I think we’ve missed the airport turn off’, I said, but the taxi driver just carried on driving.

4. I was woken by the shout of ‘Tickets please’, and when I reached for my bag, it was gone.

Now you have the idea, organize your story into four main sections:

ATTENTION HOOK, i.e. a key moment from the middle of the story.

FLASHBACK, i.e. explaining previous events leading up to the key moment


RESOLUTION OF THE STORY or climax to solve the mystery.

Finally, give your story a TITLE and PROOFREAD your story to correct mistakes.

Remember that your characters need to seem real, your readers should be able to visualize the setting and that your plot has to be clearly sequenced to move your reader along the story. Watch out your NARRATIVE TENSES:

  • Use past continuous for background information. For example – It was raining heavily as we left the house….
  • Use past perfect simple /continuous (to highlight duration) before the main events of the story. but Anne had kindly lent me her umbrella.
  • Use simple past for the main events. There wasn’t a single person on the street.

So, in short, you need to establish believable characters and settings, with vivid descriptions and dialogue, to create a story that your readers will be interested in.

Include some of the following phrases to highlight the different parts of your plot and to help your reader follow the storyline:

Time phrases:
  • It all began…
  • Shortly afterwards,
  • Meanwhile,
  • Not long afterwards,
  • Some time later,
  • Later that day,
  • A little later,
  • Finally,
  • In the end,
  • Eventually,

Phrases for dramatic effect:

  • Suddenly,
  • All of a sudden,
  • Without warning,
  • Out of the blue,
  • Just at that moment,
  • Quite unexpectedly,
  • As if from nowhere,

Direct speech:

  • “…..”, said Fred
  • “..…”, shouted Fred
  • “…..”, whispered Fred
  • ”…..”, thought Fred
  • “..…”, cried Fred
  • “..…”, promised Fred

Concluding stories:

  • When it was all over,
  • Looking back now,
  • In retrospect,
  • In the end,
  • After all that had happened,
This entry was posted in Lesson 11, Speak Out Intermediate, Unit 6, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

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