How to start writing a short story

Post date: 
Tuesday, 9 January 2018
Illustration of a pile of books

Need inspiration to start writing your 2018 writing competition entry? George Saunders, 2017 Booker Prize winner and A C Hart, a winner of RNIB’s 2016 writing competition, share their tips. 

 

George Saunders is a master of short story writing. He says, “A short story is almost like a song or a poem. It has a resemblance to real life, but it is not necessarily a linear representation of real life. A short story can also be like a joke, with little to do with real life, but is more compressed and sillier. 

 
“Whichever way you see a short story, there is usually one moment in the story that is kind of the pay‑off moment, like the punchline in a joke. Nothing else really matters except for that event. With a joke, if the person laughs then you win, and if they do not, then you lose.
 
“Most of the storywriters I know do a lot of revision. It is not the case that they just blurt something out. They go back to it again and again and again and try to find what it is they are really trying to say to you.”
 

A C Hart won the prose category of the writing competition last year, with Many Happy Returns.

 

He said, “It does not matter whether you have got any experience of writing: of being in a writing group or having studied literature or creative writing. You do not need to follow a formula for writing – just do what you want.

“I knew absolutely nothing about writing and the last contact I had had with formal English was in 1967 when I did my O-levels.

“Winning the competition last year has given me confidence that other people have appreciated what I am capable of. 
 
“Good luck with your writing.” 
 

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