Showing in Short Stories

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When I was reading the first segment of "Short Stories: 10 Tips for Novice Creative Writers" entitled "Develop Your Characters," I was very surprised at the ideas concerning character development.  I do not usually read short stories; in fact I have only read them for school.  I never realized how developed characters in short stories were.  I had never considered how difficult adding a personality to short story characters can be because I usually focused on the plot.  Even when we read the short stories for this class I never truly considered character development.  However, after reading the list of character details, I found new admiration for the writers of short stories, especially those we had written in class.  These authors were able to develop three-dimensional characters in such a small space of occurrences.  This also enforces the idea of showing instead of telling once again.  If the author had to tell about the characters' pasts, their feelings, their personalities, and their actions, they could never write a short story.  Showing allows the author to effectively create a well developed, multidimensional character in a shorter work.


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Good observation. The author has to know the characters very well, creating many details that don't actually make it into the final story, but which nevertheless give the reader glimpses into a complex personality.

Of course, you don't need to flesh out the random characters who deliver messages or otherwise just walk through the scene, but in a short story it's generally best to keep those background characters to a minimum.

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