The Creative Spark—Make Extra Cash Writing Short Stories

The Creative Spark—Make Extra Cash Writing Short Stories

Students need extra dough as badly as chocolate bars need chocolate.  Extra dough is the difference between chomping on day-old macaroni and ketchup—versus dining on Steak Neptune.

Yet, the economy has shrunk with COVID-19.  So, what can students do to earn extra cash?  Write, of course!  Under a time-crunch, students can make extra dough writing short stories.

You might wonder how you go about writing a short story.  Well, here are 7 tips to get you started on your writing journey:

Tip #1: Short stories use less than 7500 words, more than 1000.

Author N. A. Turner explains, “The word count must not exceed 7,500 words. Technically, a short story can exceed this, but then you’re talking about a novelette or novella.  If it’s less than 1,000 words, you’re talking about flash fiction” (3%).  You can self-publish a short story once every week, if you’ve got the grit and know-how, and I bet you’ve got both.  One author says she makes more money writing romance shorts than she makes writing full length fiction.  That means you could pay down student debt faster and gain writing skills.

Tip #2: One event may be all you have time for in your short story.

A. Turner says, “In a short story one usually deals with problems which can be resolved quickly and in a short time span” (3%). One key event is all you need for your short story.

Tip #3: Here are two biggies you need for plotting your short story: inciting incident and climax.

A. Turner asks, “How do I plot my short stories? I start with my story idea and build a premise” (40%). One YouTube author ShaelinWrites starts with an inciting incident and a climax.  She says the inciting incident can be one sentence, one paragraph, or longer.  Scrap the lead-in and wind-down, and get straight to the action.

Tip #4: Define your inciting incident.

An inciting incident is the first event that draws the main character into the first conflict.  Each conflict causes the next, ideally even bigger conflict, until the climax.  Think of it as the match that starts the bed on fire that starts the house on fire that starts the neighborhood on fire—and so on—until the big bang.

Tip #5: Short stories should start with a bang.

“How you start your story, how you set up the first scene, can make or break it.  You have to lure the reader in straight away ….  Often writers start with a great character moment ….  This could be an emotional moment or something that frustrates the character.  Another interesting way to start a story is with a conflict between your main characters” (54%).

Have you ever noticed that movies start with a bang, too: an amusement park, a Ferris wheel, a car race, a party?  That’s because the cinema is a highly visual medium.  But who doesn’t love a party?  In your short story you can start, well, anywhere—in outer space, in a world of “wee people,” in a forest of talking birds, or in the afterlife.

Try to blend that first scene with something that makes your reader fall in love with—or at least root for—your main character.  In short, make the scene wild and your character lovable, at least sympathetic, and you’ve got a captive reader.

Tip #6: Your main character should “shift.”

A. Turner discloses, “I think about what insights I want my main character(s) to have at the end” (35%). This is a tricky one. YouTube author ShaelinWrites says the ending in short stories should show a change in the character—at least reveal something new about the character.  That character reveal serves as the crux of your short story.  Every sentence should orbit around that crux.

I read Chekov’s short stories, loved the writing style, but abhorred his bleak endings.  He writes about the darker—bleaker—sides of humanity.  I hope to write stories that reveal the beautiful sides.  I believe we’ve all got more beauty coursing through us than do gardens of singing flowers.

Tip #7: Make every line in your short story count.

Make every sentence in your story lead to your big character reveal.  N. A. Turner says, “Every sentence must do one of two things: reveal character or advance the action” (40%).

If you want some great short story ideas, see N. A. Turner’s website.

As for me, I want to write about the quest of spiritual beings in the afterlife to end all evil.  At the very least, we should write to end our student debt—and day-old macaroni.

Turner, N. A. (2019).  How to Write a Short Story Everything you need to successfully write and publish your short stories.  Turner Stories.
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