Ruth Marlene Friesen: Welcome!
This site is like Ruthe,
the heroine of my novel,
Ruthe's Secret Roses
Ruthe is . . .
intimate with God,
prays a lot,
a bleeding heart for the hurting,
a big sister,
has creative ideas,
likes to give
loyal to friends,
dreams of love and
dreams of writing a book
goes the extra mile
So this site offers;
good books to read!
help to become Friends with Jesus,
The One Ideal Real Friend
a cure for loneliness
An Older Sister's Coping Secret
how to pray Panic Prayers,
how to grow in faith
how to share your faith
Making Short Stories like Cookies
© Ruth Marlene Friesen
Long or short, stories have some basic ingredients. If you learn them well, and know where to
find ideas for more, you can bake batches of short stories the way you press out, or drop cookie
batter on baking sheets.
You'll need at least one character with at least one unique character trait, like hungry, reliable,
vulgar, wistful, miserly, audacious... you get the idea.
Your characters have to be in the midst of a problem which, naturally, has to have a setting. A
palace, a deserted town, a camp meeting, a turret, or a closet will do. The possibilities are
As for the plot problem, there are books out which say there are only 20 basic plots in the world,
or only 7, or whatever. I think there's quite a bit of flexibility on that; depends on who is doing
the interpreting or classifying. If you create a stock list to work from, fine, but don't lock
yourself in. You might miss some great idea down the road.
If you are writing a novel you may have several sub-plots besides the main one, but if you are
writing a short short-story, you really need to restrict yourself to just one plot line. You can't
develop more than one on a single page story.
We all know a story has to have some conflict. Smooth resolutions of the problem are a how-to
narrative. To get conflict your main characters have to run into some complications on the way to
solving their problem. Here there are also hundreds of choices; interruptions of the nature of - a
riot, an assault, a miracle, a misunderstanding, an abduction - oh, on and on. The complications can
come from someone who opposes the hero or heroine, and deliberately creates delays, frustrations, or
changes of some kind. But throughout all these the character must continue to overcome or deal with
these complications in a way that strives towards the resolution of the problem - also known as the
A climax doesn't always have to be an "all's well that ends well," ending. Sometimes we simply fail
and come to an ignoble end. The ugly, dirty reality kind of stories have had a hey-day in recent
decades, but I think most people, like myself, prefer a happy ending and I think they're coming back
in vogue. Besides, they are morally more satisfying.
Short stories are only one page long (300-500 words or less, and often the hardest to write because
you have to stick to such a bare bones outline, and yet convey your story in a way that makes the
reader identify with the main character and really appreciate your climax. (At least, these are
harder for us "wordy types").
But writing a short story isn't all that hard if you outline your main ingredients first, then
simply put them together to create an interesting story. Often, just seeing certain key words
together triggers your imagination.
If your story lacks the spark of life, set it aside, and forget it for a few days or weeks. Then
come back and suddenly your story's flaws will jump at you. Or you'll have new ideas of where to add
just a touch here with a phrase - take out this paragraph and replace it with just this one tasteful
sentence. Things like that. You could dash off a short story a day, and then come back the following
week to fix up and polish each gem until it sparkles. The third week, you set off to market your
By the way, most jokes fit into this category too, so if you have a sense of humour, you could write
up your own NEW jokes in just a few short paragraphs, maybe under 100 words, and get them published
as fillers. Or, humorous stories always sell better than the very serious ones, so flesh out an old
favourite joke of yours, with perhaps a new setting, or a different character and make sure it has a
zinging punch line for the climax.
After trying this for a while, you may find that you are able to write stories on command. Maybe
even do batches of them like baking cookies.
People will say, "Yum! What a prolific story-writer!" They'll be looking for your name with other
[Note: You may want to check out the Short Story Game on this
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