DAY 1 - Sneak peek


Use This Short Story Formula To Build Your Story


  • Remember that my prompts are always optional and if you have an idea that excites you more, use that!
  • You don’t have to use this formula or write it all out before you start writing the story. In fact, it’s probably best to do the first part, write a bit, then use the middle of the formula to help you navigate the middle section of your story (where writers often get bogged down)
  • Formulas are nothing to be afraid of. It’s just a skeleton that makes your story feel more satisfying for the reader, and easier for you to write.
  • Ignore this if you’re dedicated to using the short story form to be an experimental writer!
  • Most stories grow out of a character who want something, but something is opposing them.
  • The middle of the story is where you complicate things, and every incident should grow out of the previous actions of the main character (limit this to three ‘things’ that happen.)
  • You’ve finished your story when something has changed (or the opportunity for change has arrived and your character has dismissed it).
  • Finish with a closing image/thought that reflects the theme of the story.
  • We don’t need to know exactly what happens, as long as the ending satisfies some other need of the reader: an emotional shift reflected in a poetic closing line, or an image or comment that refers back to the opening.
  • This can be funny, dramatic, literary, absurdist, whatever you want!
  • Start writing as early in the day as you can, then let your subconscious turn over the ideas as you go about your life.

The formula


A __________(adjective) __________(noun) __________(strong verb)__________(subject), so they __________(verb), and because of that __________(verb), and because of that __________(verb) until __________(something changes) and__________(what has changed?). Closing question/statement/image: __________.


Example (this is my thought process as I went through this exercise):

An ambitious mommy is pursuing acceptance at an Ivy League college for their child,

Because of that she hires a tutor, but it doesn’t help

Because of that she hires someone to take the admissions test for her kid, but the ringer gets a bad mark,

Because of that she tries to bribe the admissions officer but it doesn’t work

Because of that she puts a hit out on the poor schlub, and because of that she has to hire a hitman and agree on the terms, and justify it to herself and possibly her husband… (this is probably the meat of the story in my example. Everything else will be implied or referred to in conversations as backstory).

Eventually, the hitman turns up to report back to the ambitious mommy (OR the acceptance letter from the college arrives).

Closing image is the ambitious mommy reflecting on the journey somehow (maybe she’s having a congratulatory glass of white wine in an oversized glass at her immaculate kitchen island, or she’s standing in front of the fire-ravaged ruins of her former life!)


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