Assuming that we all are not born writers, how do we start? With a step in the right direction you may succeed, provided you are diligent and persevering. The mind is an obedient horse which responds to good training. So, start with it. Once it accepts the idea of your wanting to be a short story (it’s better to begin small) writer, it will start looking at life and people and events with a different attitude. Train the mind to become very observant and vigilant because it is not only your imagination which helps you but your store-house of observations. Nothing or no one is insignificant because all that exists has a purpose. It is up to you to seek out that purpose and build a story around it.
Let us begin at the beginning. Imagine you have to build a doll’s house. What do you collect first? The material that goes into making it, of course. The same way, you have to first put together some basic materials before you start writing. What is it?
While you start training your mind to accept the idea of writing a short story, we shall collect the necessary material and present it now
A good cook lines up all the essential ingredients, keeps the required vessels and spoons handy and then lights the stove. That’s the secret of ‘cooking’ up a good story too. There’s no joy in waiting for inspiration and trusting a series of brainwaves which may never surface. When we talk of ‘ingredients’, we don’t limit them to writing material, a cosy place to sit and a steaming cup of tea to get going. There’s more to it. Unlike other forms of writing, a story requires a more planned approach. The first thing a story writer has to bear in mind is that whatever he is about to embark on must have human appeal. To provide this, his character must be genuine, credible people who can touch a cord of harmony in the bosom of the reader. So, gather a couple of characters first and line them up for action. Not too many, though. Unlike a novel, a short story must have as few characters as possible. This is because a short story, due to its limited length, cannot nurture too many characters to ‘grow’. Ideally three to four characters should suffice. Each of these must have a purpose for his/her existence in the story and contribute to its building up either in a positive way or otherwise. How true-to-life these characters can be depends not so much on your ingenuity as on your power of observation of human behaviour.
The characters must be in the tune with the theme which is another essential commodity. Going one step backward, the theme suggests the characters. Running under the surface of the story is the fine thread of promise, which is called ‘theme’. Everything revolves around this. Without a theme, a story is like a slip sailing to no where. Most stories are based on themes like love, hate, jealousy and other human emotions. What makes them unique is the writer’s interpretation of these age-old and oft repeated ones.