Five 10-Minute Fixes For Your Short Story

A conservation
journalist friend jokes – at least I think she’s joking – that she
keeps an emergency bottle of vodka under the seat of her 4×4 for her field
trips. Sometimes we all need that
metaphorical quick fix for our writing. (We all know drinking is a bad idea for
writers, don’t we?)

Maybe you’ve
written a short story for an upcoming competition and it requires an
emergency edit. Perhaps you’ve dusted off a story that has been languishing in
a drawer and feel it needs some spark. 

Here are five 10-minute edits for your short story to get you to the deadline:

  1. Stop
    and check out the view
    . Spend 10 minutes freewriting on the
    world of your story. Describe the setting around your characters. A messy
    teen’s bedroom. The smell of an empty church. Be as specific as you can.
  2. Get
    . Spend another 10
    minutes focusing on your main character. Give him a quirk – maybe he buys
    a paper from a street vendor every day. He doesn’t read it – he just feels
    sorry for the guy on the side of the road.
  3. Think
    bad thoughts
    . Take 10 minutes to vent on the page.
    The catch? Do it the 1st person in your antagonist’s viewpoint.
    List all the nasty things you want to do to the hero. Don’t hold back –
    let it all out.
  4. Plant
    a bomb!
    Squeeze in another 10 minutes brainstorming some radical plot
    points for your story. Does your character find a suspicious parcel on a
    park bench? Does she burn her soufflé just before a first date? Shake
    things up for your character.
  5. Arrange
    the flowers.
    Take 10 minutes to skim through your
    story and highlight the parts you feel are working. These are your best
    blooms – could they be a clue as to where the story could be

Keep all these
notes with you when you do your final edit and see if your story doesn’t emerge
as tighter, quirkier and more vivid.  You
may not have time to write a new story from scratch but you may be able to give
an existing one a second shot at life. If not, just reach for that vodka under
your seat.

Join us for Short Cuts – How to write short stories. If you want to learn how to write a book, join our  Writers Write  course in Johannesburg. 

If you enjoyed this post, read:

  1. The Top 20 Literary Quotes About Short Stories
  2. Finding Inspiration for a Short Story – Three writers who inspire me
  3. How to outline a short story for beginners
  4. Cut to the Chase – Three ways to get your short story started

Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. 

This article has 0 comments

  1. Betsy

    Sounds exciting

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