How to write a story: 15 Steps (with pictures)

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How to write a story: 15 Steps (with pictures)
How to write a story: 15 Steps (with pictures)

The short story is the perfect medium of expression for any writer. While writing a novel can be a daunting challenge, almost anyone can build and, more importantly, finish a short story. This does not mean that stories are easy to write, or that they are not as artistic or valuable as novels. With practice, patience, and a passion for writing, they can be as moving and memorable as the latter. We'll give you some ideas on how to write a story and some resources to help you get through your creative slumps. Continue reading!


Part 1 of 2: Write a Story

Write a Book Step 4
Write a Book Step 4

Step 1. Collect ideas for your story

Inspiration can appear at any time. Take a notebook (notebook) with you wherever you go to be able to write down the ideas that occur to you.

  • Most of the time you will only think in small chunks (a catastrophic event around which you can build a plot, the appearance of a character, etc.), but sometimes you will be lucky and a complete story will be presented to you in a few minutes.
  • If you have trouble finding inspiration, or if you need to write a story in a very short time (for a school subject, for example), learn to use the brainstorming resource, or if no ideas appear, you may need to look at your family and friends.
  • Experience generally helps build good stories. The Mysteries of Isaac Asimov are the result of the experience of their author.
Write a Book Step 8
Write a Book Step 8

Step 2. Begin with the characteristics of the story

Once you have chosen an idea, you need to know the basic features of the story before writing. The steps to a good story are:

  • Introduction: introduces the characters, the place where the story takes place, the moment in time, the weather, etc.
  • Initial Action: The point in the story where the increasing action begins.
  • Increasing action: narration of the events leading up to the climax.
  • Climax: the most intense point or the turning point of the story.
  • Diminishing action: your story begins its denouement.
  • Resolution or outcome: a satisfactory ending in which the central conflict is resolved or not. It is not mandatory to write the story in order. If you have an idea to write a good conclusion, write it down. Move back and forth or front to back from that first idea (which doesn't necessarily have to be the beginning of the story) and ask yourself "what happens next?" or "what happened before this?"
Write a Book Step 8 Bullet2
Write a Book Step 8 Bullet2

Step 3. Find inspiration in real people

If you have trouble understanding or finding qualities for your characters, look into your life. You can take attributes of people you know or strangers you cross on the street.

For example, you can pay attention to someone who always drinks coffee, someone who speaks with a very loud voice, someone who spends his time typing on the computer, etc. All these observations together will help you build an interesting character. Your character can even concentrate the attributes of several people

Tell a Story Step 8
Tell a Story Step 8

Step 4. Get to know your characters

For a story to be credible, the characters must be believable and authentic. Getting it can be a very difficult task but there are some strategies to create "real people" to include in your story.

  • Write a list titled with the name of your character and write all the attributes that you can think of, from his position in the orchestra to his favorite color. Learn everything you can about your characters, from what their core motivation is to what their favorite foods are. Do they speak with a particular accent? Do you have any uniqueness in your way of speaking? You will not include this information in the story but the more you know, the more life your characters will have, for you and for the reader.
  • Make sure your characters' personalities aren't perfect. All characters need to have some flaws, some problems, imperfections or insecurities. It may seem to you that no one would like to read a story about someone with flaws or weaknesses, but the opposite is true. Batman wouldn't be Batman if he weren't an extreme sociopath.
  • People can relate to characters with problems because that is realistic. When trying to find your characters' weak points, you don't necessarily have to give them a huge or bizarre conflict (although you can if you want to). For most of your characters, work with aspects that you already know. For example, the character may have fits of anger, be afraid of water, be lonely, smoke too much, etc. All this you can use to take your story further.
Write a Book Step 3
Write a Book Step 3

Step 5. Limit the breadth of your story

A novel can span millions of years and include multiple subplots, multiple settings, and many more characters. The main event of a story must happen in a relatively short time (days or minutes) and it will not be possible to effectively develop more than one plot, two or three characters and one setting. If your story extends over this, you will be closer to a nouvelle or a novel.

Tell a Story Step 7
Tell a Story Step 7

Step 6. Decide who will tell the story

There are three types of storytellers to tell a story: First person (me), second person (you), and third person (he or she). In the first person, it is the character who tells the story; in the second person the reader is a character in the story; in the third person, there is a narrator outside the story. The second person narrator is almost never used.

  • Keep in mind that first-person narrators can only say what they know (which may be conditioned by what they see for themselves or what others tell them), while third-person narrators may well know everything and can also get into the thoughts of each character or limit yourself to what you observe.
  • You can also mix and match. For example, you can switch from a first person narrator in one chapter to a third person narrator in another, or even more than one first person narrator. An excellent example of this is the short story "Rashōmon" by Akutagawa Ryūnosuke, which was later made into a movie of the same name, made by Akira Kurosawa.
Write a Book Step 5
Write a Book Step 5

Step 7. Organize your thoughts

Once you've prepared the basic elements of your story, it can help to make a timeline of what will happen and when it will happen.

Your story should consist of at least an introduction, an opening incident, escalating action, climax, decreasing action, and resolution. You can make an outline with simple descriptions of what will happen in each of these stages. Doing so will help you focus on writing the story, and you can easily make changes. So you can keep up with the story

Write Science Fiction Step 11
Write Science Fiction Step 11

Step 8. Start writing

Depending on how much you've sketched the plot and your characters, the actual writing may just be choosing the right words.

Writing is generally hard work. You probably don't know your characters as well as you thought, but that doesn't matter. Somehow, they will tell you what you need. Also, there is always time for a second draft

Write Science Fiction Step 13
Write Science Fiction Step 13

Step 9. Get started in style

The first page (some would say the first sentence) of any writing should immediately grab the reader's attention and make them want to know more.

A quick start is especially important because you don't have a lot of room to tell your story. Don't ramble on with long introductions for the characters or boring descriptions of the context - go straight to the plot and reveal the details about the characters and the context as you go

Write a Book Step 10
Write a Book Step 10

Step 10. Keep writing

Before finishing your story, you will almost certainly have some unforeseen events. You must go through them to be successful. Set aside time to write every day and make it a goal to write at least one page a day. Even if you throw away what you have written on that journey, you have been writing and thinking about the story, and that will benefit you in the long run.

Consider participating in writing groups or activities. A great activity for writers of all stripes is "National Novel Writing Month" or "NaNoWriMo" (in the San Francisco Bay Area, USA). Every year from November 1 to November 30, you are tasked with writing a novel of at least 50,000 words. Quality and brilliance are not at stake; the goal is the act of writing. Take a look at the link in the references section for more information

Tell a Story Step 17
Tell a Story Step 17

Step 11. Let the story write itself

As you develop your story, you can decide to take the plot to a different side than you originally thought or substantially change a character or take him directly out of the story. "Listen" to your characters to see if they ask you to do or say something else, and don't worry about altering your plans if this improves the story.

Part 2 of 2: Editing the story

Write Science Fiction Step 10
Write Science Fiction Step 10

Step 1. Review and edit

When you've finished writing, go to the beginning and correct any mechanical, logical, or semantic errors. In general, make sure that the story flows and that the characters and their problems are presented and solved appropriately.

If you have time, leave the story for a few days or a few weeks before you start editing. Putting a little distance will help you have more clarity when you pick it up

Start a Story Step 12
Start a Story Step 12

Step 2. Look for opinions

Send your revised and edited story to a friend or relative for their opinion or suggestions and make corrections. Let him know that you want authentic opinions about your story. Give them time to read and think about it, and send them a copy that they can jot down on.

  • Consider everything your reviewers tell you, not just what you like to hear. Thank your reviewers for reading your story and don't argue with them.
  • Incorporate any changes or suggestions that have been proposed and seem valid to you. Your work will be better if you take advantage of the criticism, although you should not follow all the advice you receive. Some suggestions may not be very good. It is your story and you have the final decision.
Give Up Step 7
Give Up Step 7

Step 3. Do not give up.

It can be frustrating to have trouble typing. You can run out of momentum, get angry at the characters, or feel sad or guilty that a character you liked has died.

  • Just know that, in all likelihood, you will doubt your ability to write at some point in your story. This is totally normal. You will feel that it is not worth continuing and that it is better to seek satisfaction in something else. These thoughts can take over and make you quit right then and there. Do not give up.
  • One of your most difficult tasks as a writer is learning to overcome these thoughts and keep writing. When you start to have feelings of doubt, or get tired or bored, stop writing! You can get up, go for a walk, make yourself a sandwich, watch TV, or whatever to relax and unwind. When you return, your mind will be fresh. You may not feel like writing yet, but think about the good things in your story (whatever, from a part that you liked how you wrote, a well-constructed dialogue, an interesting character, etc.) and congratulate yourself. You are doing something that most people cannot.
  • If someone else knows about your story and has read it, that person can also be a good source of encouragement. Repeat in your head that you will finish the story because it is what you want. It does not matter if the story is not the best you will write in your life, others will come later. If you have a goal to finish, you will achieve it.
Write Science Fiction Step 14
Write Science Fiction Step 14

Step 4. Read

Nothing can help you write a good story more than reading good stories. Pay attention to style and how the author takes advantage of the brevity of the text.

  • Reading different authors and styles will help you learn to adopt different voices for each story you write and will increase your creativity. Pay attention to how the authors develop their characters, write the dialogue and structure the plot. Here are some suggestions:
  • "I, Robot", by Isaac Asimov
  • "Steps" by Jerzy Kosinsky
  • "The Famous Jumping Frog of the Skull District" by Mark Twain
  • "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty", by James Thurber
  • "The Sound of Thunder" by Ray Bradbury
  • "Three Questions", by Leo Tolstoi
  • "Mr. Gooey and the Power Critics" by Andy Stanton, for kids (this is basic)
  • "Secret in the Mountain", by Annie Proulx
  • "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" By Philip K. Dick
  • Important: many of these stories were transformed into blockbuster movies, or have become common cultural references. For example, "The Sound of Thunder" introduces us to the idea of "The Butterfly Effect." Philip Dick's stories have given us Blade Runner ("Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?"), Total Recall, Minority Report, A Scanner Darkly, and many others.


  • While you may sometimes want to throw your story away, rest assured that there is a good reason (not an excuse) not to do so. If you are only temporarily blocked, try to overcome that obstacle. Sometimes you will have ideas that you like even more than the one that was holding you back. In that case, you may want to work on that new idea, but if this happens frequently, it can become a problem - you will start many stories but never finish any.
  • Do one thing at a time. If you have trouble finding new ideas, change your activity. Go back to your story after you've had a good night's sleep and you'll be surprised at what comes to mind.
  • Investigate. If you are trying to place your story in the 1950s, research family structures, ways of dressing and speaking, etc., that correspond to the period. If you try to write without knowing the context of what you are telling, the story will seem too amateurish and those who know that time well will criticize you for doing it so nonchalantly.
  • You may not feel like brainstorming or pre-writing work; Many writers avoid these steps, and it may seem superfluous to do all the steps. With this in mind, every writer should try to pre-write at some point in their career, at least once. Also, if you don't plan ahead, you will hardly have a good story.
  • Stories have at least two timelines. On the one hand, the order in which things happened and on the other, the order in which you reveal it to your readers. Those timelines don't need to be the same.
  • Make sure your story couldn't have ended earlier. Readers hate books that, when they should be finished, carry the story a paragraph or two longer than necessary.
  • Design the format of your text. This is not very necessary unless you are showing your story to other people. For example, is the text justified? Are there chapters? Are the letters the same? Are there paragraphs? All of the above are simply ideas that can help you organize for better results when showing your story to others.
  • You can write about a fantasy you had. A good way to write about past events is to think about something that really happened and change it to make it sound more captivating and adapt it to your liking. Your main character may be an adaptation of yourself or someone you know, but be careful because real people are generally not as dynamic as characters in stories.
  • Develop your own style. Your own voice will appear as you write. You can start by imitating other writers or, if you are trying a particular genre, you can steer your thoughts towards that. Ultimately, you have to write a lot to find your own voice.
  • Sometimes it is better to end stories with open endings.
  • Think carefully about all the elements of the story, from the main character, the context, the historical moment, the genre, other characters, to the conflict and the plot.
  • If you have a hard time brainstorming, try making a concept web or table. Write about five sentences for your story. It can be very helpful to do free writing, which consists of simply writing everything that comes to your mind for a certain amount of time, say between 5 and 10 minutes.
  • Don't you have friends or relatives honest enough to tell you what they think of your story? Consider joining a group of writers. There you can learn tricks from other writers and get valid reviews.
  • If there's something on your mind, whether it's about your house or your dog, write it down and expand it. This works almost always.
  • Is there a musical style that connects you with emotions or events that you want to summon as you write? Then listen to it as you write or before you start writing.


  • Ideas cannot be registered, but only the expression of ideas. Also, there are only a few arguments. Feel free to borrow the general idea from any of them.
  • Short stories are the most difficult genre of fiction to write. You must do everything that happens in a novel (introduce the characters, create a conflict, develop the characters, resolve the conflict) within twenty to thirty pages. Respect gender, which in itself is no longer easy.
  • Don't lose heart. Many times, when trying to publish a story, the rejection is present. Much of a writer's life is shaped by rejection. Sometimes it is guaranteed but sometimes it is not. Be proud to have finished a story and keep practicing if you enjoyed it.
  • Don't be lazy when it comes to spelling and grammar. Show your readers that you know what you're doing by offering a mistake-free story. At the very least, use the checker for the word processor you use.
  • Do not feel lazy when writing. Don't end the story by leaving your reader confused. Open endings are fine, but only if you are planning to write a second part or if it fits the story.
  • Take pride in your creation but don't be vain. You could be seriously disappointed, especially if you submit your story for publication and get rejected. Rather, keep a professional distance from her.

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