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PDF Real Fiction: A Series of Short Stories

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Top 10 contemporary short stories

Where does the plot fit in? The plot cannot be ignored. For a short story though, you can think about the plot a little less than you would for a novel. Let your characters drive the story and let the plot naturally evolve. I have to say; the setting is my favorite part of short fiction.

The settings you do visit really need to shine. The setting also gives your story texture and depth, making the place and time real for the reader through carefully shared details. You also can really play with form in the setting by creating a sense of place in a variety of interesting ways. In this story, Hemingway establishes the setting without specifying exactly where we are.

62 of the Best Flash Fiction Story Prompts

This masterful use of setting also establishes the tone of the story. Beyond telling us where the action of the story is happening, the setting reveals the moods and emotions of the characters, while giving a further reference point the reader can cling too. In my experience of reading and creating short fiction, the setting is the most often underutilized elements. Tension is often referred to as Conflict, but essentially what it means is the element of your short story that drives the action. What makes the protagonist do what they do?

What forces the actions that lead to the events of the story? Tension, to me, is more accurate because there need not be any resolution or winner in the story.

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Rather, I prefer tension; elements that raise our concerns, that make us wonder what will happen next and how our protagonist will react to those events. Elements that can be dangerous, but can also be sad or heartwarming or even frustrating. The tension will propel the story.

Most of my stories start with a point of tension and develop from there. From the earliest idea to the completed story, the one constant is the tension that drives the action. Writing any kind of fiction will use the four elements I covered in this piece.


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The constraints on length shift how we think about these important elements. Paul is the Senior Copywriter at Lulu, responsible for all the words you see on our site misspellings included. Good advice! Hewever, you have confused two similar-sounding words with very different meanings: illusion and allusion.

When you refer to Kurt Vonnegut, you allude to him. If I mention a well-known character like Bugs Bunny, it reminds you of a beloved cartoon character. Fjord of Killary by Kevin Barry Barry is great at drawing you quickly into the confidence of his voice; the first few sentences of any of his stories have that quality of strapping you in for the ride.

This story, of a robbery that starts off violent before fizzling out into a chat about football and a lift home, is told in a jarringly languorous and anecdotal tone, which both draws you in and leaves you uncomfortably dissonant. The rabbit lays an egg. Things get stranger and darker, and Blasim lays his tale out with a wonderfully dry bar-room simplicity that makes the ending all the more explosive.

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Written in a misleadingly offhand deadpan, Track covers seemingly familiar ground — an abusive relationship, a young woman adrift in the big city, the pitfalls of fame and money — at such an oblique angle that it demands repeated reading. I have plumped for this simply because it is so painfully funny. The Emerald Light in the Air by Donald Antrim This is a stone-cold masterpiece, as you will see by following the link above. It proceeds with the strange and relentless quality of a dream or fable, while being almost macabre in its realism, and feels like the story Antrim has been writing towards for his whole career.

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