How to Write a Perfect, if Flawed, Short Story

On Writing

Here’s the promised sidebar to the “Confessions of an Editor” article. Read that first. Then read this.

This isn’t dated either.

How to Write a Perfect, if Flawed, Short Story
Kristine Kathryn Rusch

So, how does one go from a group of three-year-olds screaming “Halleluiah Chorus” to singing the tenor solos in the Messiah on the stage at Carnegie Hall?

Practice, my friends. Practice.

And study. Learning to hear the flaws and to expect them, learning how to compensate, and learning how to avoid the obvious ones. Doing scales, day after day after day. Getting training, and listening to the opinions of others.

Realizing that talent is not enough, arrogance is not enough. Talent and arrogance do not make art. Human beings make art.

But enough of metaphor. How do you write the perfect short story? You don’t. But you strive for it, story after story, day after day, even after you are published, even after you are famous. You strive until the day you die.

And you remember that the best moments in life come from the heart. So give yourself to the page with all the warmth and love and understanding you can bring.

You will never know when you have written a perfect short story. But I guarantee that someone else will.

Copyright © 1994 by Kristine Kathryn Rusch