HOW TO WRITE PRIZE-WINNING SHORT STORIES
Ever received one of those junk mail letters offering to sell you the secret of making a fortune on the stock exchange? My name obviously got onto one of those mailing lists that the con artists sell/pass on to each other so I’ve had hundreds to compare. But none of them answers this important question. If you have the secret of making a fortune, then why would you want to sell it to anyone else? Why not just make a fortune?
Of course, if you follow the logic, why should a writer with the skill of writing best-selling stories want to teach others and create competition? Much easier just to write the stories. So you’ve probably guessed by now that I DON’T have a magic formula for story writing, ready to sell/pass on to you. The best advice I can give is that writing is like driving, you can only learn by doing it, though a good instructor is a huge help. So far I’ve managed to finish over 50 short stories and I’m willing to make these available for you to enjoy, criticise and emulate. If you manage to read all of them, I can (more or less) guarantee that you will feel you can do at least as well and be inspired to write your own. Then you should find that the more you write, the better you can write. When you’ve finished 20-30 you can try setting up your own site like this one.
This site is under construction and soon there should be available free of charge the first pages of all the stories. If you like the beginning and would like to read more then a sample of two stories per reader will also be free of charge. Thereafter you will have to pay to finish reading the rest of the stories of which you liked the first free page. There will also be the option for you to give feedback on the stories and say what you liked/disliked about them, with suggestions for variations.
More importantly, the first pages are intended as prompts. They give you a situation and some characters and the question for you to answer with your writing is,what happens next. Go ahead and write your own version of the story before you read the original. Don’t worry if there is something in that first page you don’t like. One of the best things about writing fiction is that you are the sole MASTER OF YOUR UNIVERSE – anything you can imagine can and will happen. If you invent good strong characters, they will have minds of their own and take you off in directions you didn’t originally intend but you alone can decide what happens to them in the end.
When you have finished your story and compared it to the original, you will be able to submit for criticism your version and I will give you an honest opinion of how I think your version can be improved. Yet one man’s improvement is another man’s massacre and you will retain full copyright of your story (and even the first page, if you change it to make it your own) to do whatever you want with it. If you start to make more money from writing than I ever have, I may be a bit jealous but I won’t mind. Though if you tell your friends who helped you, I’ll be grateful.
Last word – don’t spend too long reading, start writing today!