How to write 50 word stories
After the success of our writing advice article How to Write a 6 Word Story, and with August’s West Lothian Write looking for 50 word stories, we thought we’d look at some advice for tales with an additional 44 words. Surprisingly perhaps we couldn’t find any articles that looked particular at 50 word stories but we still found some advice you will find useful. All below the break of course!
We will start with our friends at the Scottish Book Trust who run a monthly 50 Word Fiction competition. This not only gives you a monthly prompt to practice your 50 worders, they also got Lynsey Rogers to come up with some advice about writing 50 word stories. While this advice is quite specific to the competition itself, it is a good place to start as her key points are:
- Use the prompt creatively (assuming there is one)
- Involve character
- Don’t forget plot
- Play with style
- All’s well that ends well
Of course Lynsey goes into each point in detail so head over to the Scottish Book Trust and read her article 50 Word Fiction Competition: how to make an impression.
Getting to 50 words
Once you have got all the things Lynsey suggests you need for a 50 word story, you then have to make sure it reaches 50 words. To reach this golden number we turn to Writer’s Relief and their article Length Matters: Submit Short Stories and Poems for Publication. Aimed at writing of any length, their advice is still ideal for a 50 word story and it is:
- Trim the excess description
- Cut flabby dialogue
- Cut action repeat words unless absolutely necessary or emphatic
- Make each word count
- Watch for redundancies
- Use the active voice, not the passive
- Use descriptive words
- Expand your vocabulary
- Watch for overlapping adjectives
- Trim from the middle when possible
- Consider a conversational style
- Eliminate the clichés
Each point, of course, comes with examples and further explanation so go and give Length Matters: Submit Short Stories and Poems for Publication on Writer’s Relief now.
You May Not Be Writing A 50 Word Story
The most important thing to remember is that your idea may be too long for a 50 word story. If that is the case don’t worry about it and write the story to the length it is meant to be. While it won’t be accepted by one of the 50 word magazines on our Continuous Submissions page another magazine, that likes longer stores, may well take it.