menu

How to Write a Short Story in 750 to 1,000 Words


A short short story is an art form often referred to as "flash fiction." It requires unique writing talent and practice to master. If you think of a novel as a movie, then this is the literary version of a painting or photograph. It describes a moment of a character’s life that highlights an important decision or life-defining choice. In writing flash fiction, you reveal the motivation and idealism in your character while showing your audience something human in themselves.

Write a title for your story that is no longer than two words because your word count includes your title. Focus your title around a short, ironic word or phrase that plays a role in your story. For example, the title "Ravenwood" could simultaneously describe the name of a location where your story takes place, the feeling or mood of the story and a symbol of death to a reader who is familiar with the raven metaphor.

Define your character’s scenario. Symbolism is a good technique to help you do this while limiting your word count. Keep this section under 50 words. For example, you can describe a cross around your character's neck to define him as religious and create a contrast by also placing him in a shirt with a short secular message.

Tell your story entirely at the moment of your plot climax and let your reader assume the buildup toward your climax as well as the resolution that follows. Instead of a slow, rising action that climaxes near the end and slowly resolves any unfinished points, focus your whole story on an instance of your plot.

Eliminate your character's history or back story, creating a snapshot of her life at a point when something significant is happening to her. Avoid extraneous character thoughts or long periods of contemplation. Give your character only enough time to react to a situation such as her initial few seconds of action following a threat to her life.

Edit your story and avoid using any unnecessary descriptions. Eliminate any references to setting or details (like your character's hair color) that are not essential to your story.

Read your story and eliminate all unneeded words. Build your theme through subtle description, irony and symbolism. Avoid wasting words on explanations or reiterations. Allow your readers to draw their own conclusions.

About the Author

Kristyn Hammond has been teaching freshman college composition at the university level since 2010. She has experience teaching developmental writing, freshman composition, and freshman composition and research. She currently resides in Central Texas where she works for a small university in the Texas A&M system of schools.

Photo Credits
  • Dirima/iStock/Getty Images