Museum of Brisbane

Top five tips for writing a cracker short story

Kathleen Noud Headshot

Entries for our secondary student short story competition are now open. There are great prizes to be won so if you’re aged between 12 and 18, get your pens poised and start thinking about what to write today!

If you need a little help getting started, stay with us. Award winning author, Kathleen Noud has shared her top five tips on writing a cracker short story:

1. Start in the middle of things (in media res).  There’s no time for snooze buttons and teeth brushing in a short story. Have your character running away from home or hiding the stash of money straight up. Entice the reader from the first paragraph.

2. Think of your character’s goal and their obstacle in the story.  What does your character want? What is in their way? These answers will help you form a story arc from the beginning to the end.

3. Interesting characters make for interested readers.  Think of your favourite characters and list what makes them special to you, or write a character profile to help make them real.

4. Use the five senses to create mood and show emotion.  Sight is an easy one, but what does your main character smell, taste, hear or touch in the story to build the mood? Think of horror or thriller genres for obvious examples of this.

5. Don’t be disheartened by your first draft.  Good stories become riveting takes in the editing and re-writing process. Keep revising until it’s ready for the reader.

So there you have it – five tips to get you on the right path. When you’re ready to share your story, head over to our competition page to enter.