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Short Story Editing Tips And Tricks

short story editingA number of writers have suggested they like to write short stories during breaks from working on their novels. But some short story writers will tell you that writing a short story can almost be as difficult as writing a 300 word novel.

Perhaps it’s because a short story has to perfectly capture a moment as opposed to the lifetimes that novels often capture. Indeed, choosing an interesting, solitary moment that a reader can absorb themselves in for just a few moments is never easy. Your timeframe is limited, as is your number of characters and your plots. A short story means a writer is working with very sparse materials and has to be super inventive. They have to work within limited means.

Just as hard, though, is the professional book editing process. Despite their relatively short size, short stories are subject to arduous editing processes, perhaps because of how delicate their expanse is. Getting ten pages just right is not as easy as we’d prefer it to be. Let’s have a look at some timeless short story editing tips and tricks.

Take A Step Back

After you’ve laboured for several days or weeks, doing little else but working on your short story that has by now consumed you, it’s more than advisable to take a break of two or three days before editing a short story as wel as before editing comedy. Don’t leave it too long, otherwise the characters and plot will become too loose in your mind. But definitely don’t delve straight into editing it.

Highlight Sections You’re Not Sure Of

If you’re editing a short story on a computer, you can easily highlight sections that strike you as adding little to the plot. When we first write a story, it’s very easy to add fluff that sounded good the first time around. Short story editing means you can highlight parts you’re not sure of. You don’t need to remove them just yet – see how you feel about them in a day or two.

Fix The Transitions

Short stories are often under 20 pages long, and the timeframe of a story can be little more than a day or two. But there will still be transitions in your story. When editing a short story, you can highlight your transitions and establish how they can be improved. Does the transition seem too abrupt? Does it seem too lengthy? How can you make it more interesting? Can you add symbolism?

Remove The Clutter

Whilst novels may have several themes, short stories typically don’t have too many. If you’re trying to say too much in just 10-20 pages, your short story editing should help you remove themes that don’t really add anything to the story. Remember, short stories are short. A reader doesn’t want to be besieged by numerous issues and themes that will probably seem irrelevant.

Keep Characters To A Minimum

Similarly to the themes, if you added in one or two extra minor characters the first time around that now don’t really seem to add too much to the story, you can consider removing them. When editing a short story, it’s important to remain objective; whilst we may have fallen in love with our characters, if they really don’t add anything to the story, we should probably leave them out.

Get Your Ending Right

Ending a short story is never easy. To help you with your short story editing when it comes to your climax, it’s helpful to read other short stories. You will notice that most have very subtle endings. Importantly, though, all resolve the issues in the story. Your ending needs to resolve everything for the reader, but this doesn’t mean that you have to make things obvious. If a reader needs to reread the story to grasp what has happened, so be it. Once your story has been resolved, the story should end. A short story shouldn’t continue after the climax.

Image credit: http://nicolehmann.com/portfolio/editing-and-proofreading/