Tips for Writing Short Stories

How to Make Short, a Story

The Dramatica model contains an entire Grand Argument Storyform. There is simply not enough room in a short story, however, to cover all aspects of a Grand Argument. The worst thing to do is arbitrarily hack off chunks of the Grand Argument Story in an attempt to whittle things down. A better solution is to limit the scope of the argument. This can best be done by focusing on a single Class or eliminating a level of resolution (such as Objective Characters or Theme).

Two Ways to Limit Scope

When limited to one Class, the story will be told from only one point of view: Main Character, Obstacle Character, Objective Story Throughline, or Subjective Story Throughline. Because storyforms are holographic, the gist of the argument is made but only “proven” within the confines of that point of view.

When limiting to fewer resolutions, a whole level of examination is removed, effectively obscuring a portion of the exploration and leaving it dark. Again, the gist of the topic is explored but only in the illuminated areas.

In the case of a single-Class story, the argument appears one-sided, and indeed it is. In the limited-resolution story, the exploration of the topic seems somewhat shallow but is complete as deep as it goes.

Ultra-Short Stories

When writing VERY short stories, these two methods of “paring down” the information are often combined, resulting in a loss of perspective AND detail. So how small can a story be and still be a story? The minimal story consists of four dramatic units in a quad. This is the tiniest story that can create an interference pattern between the flow of space and time, encoding both reason and emotion in a way than can be decoded by an audience. However, ANY quad will do, which leads to a great number of minimal stories.

From the Dramatica Theory Book