Writing Tip #1: Think about these questions when you write a short story.

  1. Why did your story happen?  

  2. When did your story happen?

  3. Where did your story happen?

  4. How did your story happen?

  5. How does the setting of your story look, sound, smell, and even taste?

Remember you don’t have to include the answer to every question. Telling a story calls for choosing the best details, not all of them. The list is to help you remember the details of your story. Also, don’t get to overwhelmed with “facts.” You are not writing for a newspaper, you are making up stories!

Writing Tip #2: Get it down fast! Think about rewriting later.

Once your story is down on paper, see how many of the following parts of the story you can identify.

Beginning Situation Action Solution

Characters Problem Dialogue Ending

Put the story away and look at it later. You will discover all sorts of things you will want to change, delete, or add next time you pick it up. This tool works for poetry as well as short stories.

Writing Tip # 3: Replace Dead Words! Some words end to be overused and, therefore, lose their power. Below is a list of dead words and some interesting alternatives.

Lots: numerous, heaps, scores, often, a great deal

Awesome: wonderful, marvelous, fantastic, excellent

Awful: dreadful, terrible, horrible, shocking

Fun: pleasant, pleasurable, delightful, satisfying, humorous, merry

Kid: child, boy, girl, youngster, youth, teen, teanager, adolescent

Scared: afraid, fearful, terrified, frightened, horrorstruck, shocked

Mad: angry, frustrated, furious, incensed, enraged, irate

Then: first, second, next, later, finally, afterward, meanwhile, soon


Writing Tip #4: Take it easy on the –ings.

Writing Tip 5: Activate Verbs–Strong verbs create action, save words, and reveal the players.

Okay = Kelsey ran really fast down the hall.

Better = Kelsey sped down the hall.

Okay = Suddenly the girl stood straight up and she felt excited.

Better = Suddenly the girl stiffened and her heart missed a beat.

Writing Tip # 6 Watch those adverbs.

When they work, adverbs spice up a verb or adjective. When they don’t, they express a meaning already contained in the sentence Consider the following examples. The sentences in bold are cleaner and clearer.

The blast completely destroys the post office on Main Street.

The blast decimates the post office on Main Street.

The accident totally cuts off the boy’s arm.

The accident severs the boy’s arm.

The spy secretly looks through the bushes.

The spy peer through the bushes.


Writing Tip #7 Rule of Three

People tend to easily remember three things in order. So by repeating something three times or using the alliteration with three words, ordinary writing becomes better. Look at the examples below.

“Friends, Romans, Countrymen!” William Shakespeare

“Blood, sweat, and tears.” General Patton

“Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Declaration of Independence

“Government of the people, for the people, and by the people.” Abraham Lincoln


Writing Tip # 8 Put yourself into your writing.

“If you find that you start a number of stories or pieces that you don’t ever bother finishing…it may be that there is nothing at their center about which you care passionately. You need to put yourself at their center, you and what you believe to be true or right

~ Anne Lamott

Writing Tip #9: Read everything out loud.

“As you compose and revise, read your stories aloud to yourself. Pretend you are reading on the radio, speak slowly and clearly, with feeling. Test the sound of the sentences, improve rhythm, eliminate awkward phrases, and shape realistic dialogue.”

~Luke Wallin