If you have always been in awe of writers who could come up with short story ideas that have a twist, you are not alone. Most of us can only sit and be dumbstruck by the weird twists and turns that some short stories and novellas take. In this article, we take a look at some of the tips that these writers use, other than creative brilliance, to come up with such masterpieces.
When I was kid and before I could read, I had this horrible habit of hounding people with a book so that they would read out to me. On one occasion I remember, a family friend consenting to my request, making me sit on the sofa next to him, setting my book aside, and narrating with much emotion a story I will never forget. “Once upon a time, many years ago, in a land far far away, there lived a king. He was married to the fairest lady of the land. They had a happy life. They were good rulers and their subjects were very pleased with them. Until one day, when great tragedy befell them. They both died.” I kept looking at him expectantly awaiting more and then I was told that was the end of the story. Very obviously I was disappointed and declared that as the worst story I had ever heard. Of course with time I learned to read, and read better stories with better endings and twists. But I always go back to that incident whenever I try to think of short story ideas, hoping and praying that I never write one that is that bad.
Personal incidents apart, most of us (if you are a voracious reader), at some point of time or the other have thought of becoming a writer. But how do you go about it? If you are a fan of short stories and fiction, and who isn’t, this fiction type is the best place to start. A short story, by its very definition, is concise and therefore not as time-consuming. Also for a first time writer, it is easier to write a piece of fiction where the narrative structure is eased and characterization not as detailed. But there are many things to keep in mind especially if you want to keep your reader’s interest alive.
Writing Stories with a Twist
Truth be told it is absolutely nerve-wracking to write short stories or any other type of literary piece, especially if you are a literature student, and an avid reader. Nothing you write will be good enough or match the standards of your favorite writer. It is a constant battle and you need to continue to convince yourself that you have what it takes to pursue fiction writing. The fact remains that it takes true creative genius to come up with short story ideas that will actually shock and/or surprise. Read a Murakami novel or any of his short stories and more often than not you are left with a feeling of veneration for the genius that the author is. While your short story idea will always take root in that light-bulb moment where you will be hit by inspiration, there are tips that can help you come up with ideas that have a surprising twist. In this article, we try to list out those tips for you.
Backward ran sentences until reeled the mind.
J.K. Rowling very famously revealed that she wrote the last chapter of the last book of the Harry Potter series much before she started work on the final book. It is a trick that could probably work with short stories as well. Try writing your short stories backwards. Start with the twist in the tale and then work towards the beginning of the tale. It is a literary trick that many authors employ to stay on path and to ensure that they do not meander while writing their short story. This is one of the best techniques that you can employ.
Real or Unreal
Reality leaves a lot to the imagination.
There is a lot to be learned from the age-old adage, reality is stranger than fiction. Look back at your experiences, or some real life incident someone narrated to you. Look at the crime stories that newspapers and news channels are flooded with. Chances are more often than not you will find inspiration for several different short story ideas. Historical accounts, your travels to various places, the television episodes that left an indelible mark on you are some of the many inspiring sources that you can turn to while writing short stories.
People – Not Caricatures
When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters.
Sometimes the biggest twist in a short story can be attributed to a character. Imagine writing a story and describing this person who is the ideal lover, everything that a woman could ever want, describing his every quality, only to end it with him reading his diary where he recounts every gory murder he has ever committed. In such a story if the character comes across as a 2 dimensional caricature without any real personality, the story is going to fall flat. Always create characters your reader can relate to. This is one of the most important things to keep in mind while coming up with short story ideas.
Intrigue and Beckon
Be interesting, be enthusiastic… and don’t talk too much.
Your story needs to engage the reader by making him a part of the narrative. Detailing is one of the most important elements of a short story and these details need to capture the attention of the reader. A good short story will keep the reader guessing, involve him, and intrigue him into finding out as much as he can. This is key while thinking of short story ideas that have an engaging twist. Ensure that at no time does the reader get the feeling that this is a plot he is familiar with. That he has read this story or a version of it somewhere earlier.
The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.
Most first time writers tend to believe that being bizarre in their literary piece translates into creating a work that is entertaining. While coming up with short story ideas engage your wacky side by coming up with the quirkiest ideas, but remember that if these do not touch a chord with the readers, it is a downhill ride. Eccentricity and readability are not interchangeable and do not make the mistake of thinking so. A twist in the tale does not mean that your story about two kids on a picnic can end up on an intergalactic spaceship. Or maybe it can. If one of the kids is an alien doing research on planet Earth.
Twist it Around
If someone wrote it and it had a peculiar twist, I’ve read it.
One of the things that you need to keep in mind while indulging in an exercise of creative writing is that there are many ways of doing the same thing. If you want to come up with different short story ideas that have twists, well first you need to decide what kind of a twist you are aiming at. O. Henry who along with Saki is probably one of my favorite short story writers was famous for short stories that ended with an amusing twist. Saki, on the other hand, had a knack for the macabre. Opt from amongst types like amusing twists, ironic twists, or just misconceptions. You will also need to figure out whom you are writing for. Short stories for kids will differ vastly from short stories for adults.
Since brevity is the soul of wit, and tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes, I will be brief.
Who better than the Bard can tell us how important brevity is in a short story. You do not want to be writing a short story and have the reader wonder at the end about how everything fell into place. Any story that meanders, confuses the reader. Be precise; a short story works best when it is told in a manner that is succinct and witty. Brevity, does not mean, compromising on your plot setting, or your characterization. But for the twist in the story to be impactful, you need the story to be present in the reader’s mind in all its detail. Read any of the famous short stories and you will be surprised by how concise they are.
Brian Aldiss, an English author, once said, “There are two kinds of writers: those that make you think, and those that make you wonder.” While coming up with ideas, you need to decide which kind of an author you want to be. There is no machine out there that can churn out story ideas for fiction writers. All you have is your mind. Statistics show that most writers face at least 32 rejections before being taken seriously. Maybe the stats are wrong, maybe they are right. The moral of the story remains that without persevering it will be extremely difficult for you to establish yourself as a writer. So wipe out those cobwebs from the corners of your brain and get out your writing gear. You never know, you just might be the next darling of the literary world.