Writing a successful short story series requires planning and a solid foundation. If you’ve always wanted to try your hand at a series of these smaller tales, it’s time to start! Let’s dive into the first 5 steps to take that will make writing your first story in the series much easier.

1. Brainstorm the Overarching Idea

Before writing individual stories, you need a core concept. This is the glue that holds everything together. Key questions to ask yourself:

  • Genre: Will it be fantasy, crime thriller, romance, sci-fi, or a unique blend?
  • Theme: Is there a deeper meaning? Ideas include love, loss, courage, or overcoming adversity.
  • Setting: Think about time periods, specific locations, even fictional worlds. Is the series set entirely in one place or many?
  • Main Character(s): Will your series have a recurring protagonist? If so, sketch their basic personality and motivations.

2. Outline the Series Arc

Don’t think of every short story as entirely isolated. Yes, each should have its own satisfying plot, but also consider:

  • How do the stories link? Maybe each involves a specific object, a recurring event, or a slowly revealed mystery that gets solved over time.
  • Character Development: Will your characters change across the series due to what unfolds in each story?
  • Openings and Endings: Does each story have a definitive ending, or might you occasionally use cliffhangers to hook readers into the next one?

3. Craft the First Story’s Concept

Now focus on the initial tale. Remember, this introduces your series to the world! Consider:

  • Scope: Short stories thrive on smaller, contained plots (vs. novel-length complexity).
  • Hook: What’s the captivating incident that draws the reader in immediately?
  • Connection to the Series: How will this story subtly hint at the series’ broader themes or future events?

4. Focus on a Few, Well-Developed Characters

Short stories don’t offer space for vast casts of characters. Think of 2-3 characters maximum. For the first story:

  • Protagonist: Who’s the central focus? Give them clear goals and flaws.
  • Secondary Character(s): Do they help or hinder the protagonist? Ensure each person feels distinct, not just background players.

5. Write That Dazzling First Draft

It’s time to write! Here’s a ‘focus first’ approach:

  • Don’t Overthink the Opening: Just start writing, even if it’s the middle of the action. Later, you can refine the beginning.
  • Keep the Pace Moving: Use short paragraphs and active language to keep the story flowing.
  • Prioritize Dialogue: Good dialogue efficiently reveals character and moves the plot forward.
  • Don’t Sweat Perfection: The first draft is for getting the story down on paper. Editing comes later!

Additional Tips

  • Read Great Short Stories: Immerse yourself in the work of masters like Alice Munro, Edgar Allan Poe, or contemporary authors. Analyze why their writing works.
  • Start Small: Short stories are a perfect training ground. Before committing to a huge series, test the waters with your very first tale.

Let the Creative Journey Begin!

Writing a short story series is a rewarding adventure. Following these steps will set that first story (and the rest of your series) on a path towards success. Let your imagination take flight and have fun!