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Let your short story write itself

Is there a short story you’re struggling to write? Sometimes, you have to let the story write itself. I generally like to have an outline of some sort before I start writing, but lately I’ve experimented by starting with a remnant of an idea, or a character, or even just one sentence or phrase.

I realized that with one of my stories, I was simply trying too hard. I was over thinking it. If you’re stuck, try letting go and having faith that your story will reveal itself.

Try these exercises to find your way into a short story:

1. Make a list of 60 first lines. Let the list sit for a few days or weeks. When you look at it again, see which ones resonate. Pick one and imagine the next line. Work on it a little very day, adding sentences and paragraphs. Some of the lines may never work into a story, others may inspire something new and you might find them taking you in new and unexpected directions.

2. Write a list of 50 random sentences. Shuffle the sentences around like puzzle pieces to see the pattern and story that develop. Add more sentences as you go. You may find your random sentences aren’t as random as you thought. As you make your list, think about how to include sensory details, action, and dialogue.

Once you’re done with your lists, read through the sentences and lines and see if they inspire a character.

You don’t have to know what your story is when you begin. Have faith that the story is already alive inside you and let it reveal itself in the writing.

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