Step 2 – the Meat

You Can Write A Short Story: Part 2 – the Meat of the Story

by Linda S. Dupie

Many writers call the middle the meat of the story, but I like to think of it as an OREO cookie. The creme filling is what holds the ends together, just as the middle of your story should bring the beginning and ending of your story together.

The middle is the part of the story where your conflict builds for your hero/heroine. Depending on the length of your story, you may have a couple of set backs before your hero/heroine triumphs in the end. For example, we used a 1000-word count in part 1 of this series, so we’ll continue with it. In part one, it was said that your opening should be no longer than one-fifth of your word count, so for the allotted 1000 words that is 200 words. That means your middle should be around 600 words, thus leaving you with 200 words to end your story. As you can see 1000 words is not much when you have a story to tell.

My advice for a story of this length is to use one major obstacle and focus on how your hero/heroine works to overcome the conflict. As your character moves through the story, s/he should be working to obtain their goal for the ending.

This sounds like a huge task, but it doesn’t have to be. Remember the phrase “show, don’t tell” will help. Whether your character is overcoming an inner conflict or physical one, using action and dialog keeps your story moving.

Detail is great, just don’t get bogged down by describing every little detail, it’s good to leave a little to the readers own imagination.

If your character is overcoming an inner conflict (feelings/emotional), then use their action in conjunction with dialog to show the steps they take to overcome their obstacle. Does s/he talk his problem out with a doctor or trusted friend? Then write the dialog. Once your character has talked it through, make sure your hero/heroine arrives at the solution and not one of your supporting characters. That cheats the reader and undermines your hero/heroine’s credibility.

For longer stories, 1500-2,500 words your lead character might have to overcome two or more obstacles to gain what they are after.

Points to Remember

Show, don’t tell. Use action and dialogue to keep your story moving along.

Stay in the correct point of view (POV). If you are telling the story from your hero/heroine’s POV, then you can’t jump to another character to tell the story.

Keep your tenses consistent. If you have chosen to tell the story in the third person, be sure not to slip into first person or vice versa.

You don’t have many words to work with in a 1,000-word story so choose the best possible words to get your story across to the reader. More often than not, a reader would like the writer to get to the point of the story. Just be sure to choose the right words.

Now, grab your thesaurus if you haven’t already and work on making your middle the creme filling that holds your story together.

Next tying up the loose ends: your ending.
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