Barbara Taylor Bradford's short story writing: top ten tips


Write something you would want to read yourself.
Before you start writing, know how your story is going to end. Think it all through.
Try and make the first few paragraphs of your story gripping. Use hooks to grab the reader's attention from the beginning.
Wherever you can, use actions and speech to let readers know what's happening. Show, don't tell.
In order to develop a living, breathing, multi-faceted character, it is important to know more about the character than you will use in the story. Perfect characters are not very interesting!
You have 1,000 words so use each one carefully. Make every word count and don't crowd the story with too many characters. You haven't got the space.
Plot: if you over-complicate it by including too many distractions, your story will be overloaded and underdeveloped.
Remember to check your spelling and grammar. It makes a difference.
Read your finished story out aloud - it will help you to spot mistakes.
Ensure your short story has a proper resolution, an ending which will satisfy the reader.



Malorie Blackman, children’s and young adult author


READ. You can't write if you don't read.
Try to read as many different types of stories by as many different authors as you can.
Develop your own style. Don't copy anyone else's. Your own voice is individual and unique so don't be afraid to use it.
Try to get into the habit of writing every day. Keeping a diary is an excellent way of doing this.
Write from the heart as well as the head. Write about what makes you angry, what moves you to tears, the things about which you feel passionately. If you feel it when you write, others will feel it when they read.
Don't fake it! Don't write a vampire story for example if you have no interest in vampires because it will show.
If your stories run out of steam half way through, try plotting out the beginning, middle and end of your story before you start writing. That way, you'll know where your story is going and it's just a question of how you get there.
Try creating a biography (3 or 4 pages) for each of your major characters. I find that helps in creating characters who become real, live, living people to me.
When I first started writing, I found joining a supportive writing group invaluable. Friends and family tend to be less objective when it comes to venturing an opinion of your work. But if joining a writing group is difficult, try recording your story onto your computer or a digital recording device or somewhere where you can play it back a few days later to hear what it sounds like. The few days gap is important because that way you're more likely to hear it as it is, rather than how you expect it to be.
Don't give up!