The shorter a short story is the deeper it ought to be.
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When a short story is 2,000 to 5,000 words long, the writer has all kinds of room for interesting characters and for texture and shading. The writer even has room for a flash back or two. But what if the writer is writing a very short story, a piece of flash fiction? Then what? If the story is only 1,000 words long there might be room for only two or three characters that have to be quickly drawn and set into motion and the fancy writing, the texture and shading have to go. Forget about a flash back. So, how can the writer add depth to a very short story?
Before we directly tackle the question of adding depth, let me bring up the word “revision”. When a writer is just throwing a piece together, especially if the writer must make a deadline or the writer knows the subject matter well, there may be little time or need for revision. Let’s say the writer wants to put together the best short story he or she can write. This usually calls for several drafts, for several revisions. How does revision fit in with the question of how to add depth to a story?
A strange thing happens during the process of revision. As the writer re-writes the story once, twice, three or four times patterns start to emerge in the story; patterns that were not in the first draft or if they were in the first draft they were faint. As the writer rewrites, the patterns become clearer. The story begins to take on a definite form, a form that echoes the underlining patterns. And depending on the writing skill of the author, these patterns will remain echoes but the inner ear of the reader’s mind will definitely hear them. The reader may not be able to explain why the story resonates but the echoes will be there just the same.
So, if you are writing a very short story or a piece of flash fiction, you probably want to revise it one or two times at the least to give it depth. The beautiful thing about revision is, it can give more depth to any length of fiction if you are willing to put in the time.
This is how to give depth to your short stories.