Sometimes writing can be the hardest way to express yourself to the world. But once you know what to write and you have as much practise as you can get, you're one step closer to becoming a great writer.
Obviously, you need a little more than the first random object you see - that's a no brainer. You also need perseverance - you won't be a genius at the craft the day you start. That day is the beginning of the journey, but not the end of it.
If all you can write is 100,000 word novels and you need a short story to get you out there, read on. The only thing you need to start a short story is one good word. Which word? Let's find out.
Step 1: Find a Thing.
Find something to write about. Think out of the box here: you don't have to look at a portrait of the Empire State Building and write something based on this. You could write about some mundane object in an abstract way, for example, a...
blanket that comes to life and starts following the protagonist around
Here is your first idea.
Step 2: Describe Your Object
Come up with your storyline by first describing your subject matter. Creating a detailed description of your prompt can evoke ideas for the character/plot inspired by the object. Be creative here: you can add details that aren't on the real object if you wish, or even give it a personality - it's your story, not an essay on it.
The blanket was flung across the armchair in an offhanded fashion, it's purple fluff mottled with age, one end dangling to touch the floor and the other lounging on the arm facing her... almost as if it was watching her.
It's that easy to create a stem for your story: just think outside of the box.
Step 3: Create Your Protagonist
Every story needs a relatable character, but it doesn't necessarily have to be human. Admittedly it would be a challenge to write an entire novel based on the life and times of a slice of bread, but for a short story, anything goes. A slice of bread could do a lot in 500 words: anything more than that is punching above your weight.
Course, your object could have a personality: it could be the diary of a spud peeler or it could be the villain of the piece. Or you could just make the object set off a string of events that end in a life or death situation. It's all up to how you write and what you feel like writing about.
Example of a human protagonist and the villain of the piece:
Alice is reading a novel about the life and times of a slice of bread. She is enjoying the novel and pondering the way her favourite writers can think outside of the box when suddenly she is being harassed by a mottled purple blanket.
Blankie is not your average blanket. He was bought at a car boot: not really bought, in retrospect, but given away free with a video collection of Star Wars. His life involved a lot of tugging from children, being sat on and being left on a scalding hot radiator, until he discovered his owner Alice alone in the house and decides to get his revenge. For you see, he is no ordinary blanket. He is a demon object of the occult: and he's very angry.
Use your favourite short story writers as an influence: they're experts in the field of short-term out of the box. Here I took a tip or two from Stephen King, with my own style thrown in.
Step 4: Write Your Story
Some people find it helpful to plot out their short story first,. but I myself would just go with the flow. It's just a short story: the best ones are written purely by instinct and inspiration, and the same goes for novels.
Don't hesitate to put the characters' backstory into it, and especially the backstory of the object. Explain where it came from using dialogue or, if the character is alone, using thought process. (Thoughts don't all have to be written in italics: just direct quotes from the head of the character. Most of your writing will be observations from the main character's point of view, so adding in thoughts and opinions in the third person is a good way of getting the reader into the backstory a bit.)
Always begin with a short catchy one liner. Something sharp that sticks in the mind, or something exciting or intriguing. The first thought you had to write about the object would be the best one.
Alice heard a rustle from the empty chair beside her and turned her head slightly.
A blanket was lying on the armchair beside her, its purple fluff mottled with age, one end dangling to touch the floor and the other draped over the arm of the chair, almost as if it was gazing at her. She remembered bringing it home from a car boot six years previously, after getting it free with a video box set of Star Wars. Couldn't give the thing away, she had thought at the time, accepting it anyway. The kids had used the thing as a prop for private performances for years and had practically pulled it to bits.
Now she wished she had dumped it like she first intended at the blanket lingered in her peripheral vision, it's manky fur dark and aged.
She pulled her attention back to The Life and Times of a Slice of Bread, thinking of the wonders of the human imagination as regards to bread. When she glanced across the armchair at the clock, the blanket had moved to the floor.
Alice blinked, startled. Had it always been on the floor? Had she simply imagined it lying on the armchair? She didn't know. The story of the slice of bread was actually very entertaining.
She returned to it for another five minutes as the clock across the room ticked steadily. She paused to turn the page and frowned. The blanket was at her feet.
She ignored it.
The clock ticked on.
The blanket had moved onto her leg.
She jumped and tucked her legs into the chair beneath her. This was getting weird. She closed her book and leaped over the horrid blanket in the direction of the stairs, her heart thudding in her throat.
The blanket pounced.
It wrapped itself around Alice in a vice-like grip, it's terrifying embrace emptying her lungs of air. It didn't release her as her ribs snapped and her lungs gave out, and slowly unwound itself as her body went limp.
Blankie slithered across the carpet in a rippling motion until it reached the now vacant settee. It climbed its way up and crossed two of its corners behind where its head might have been, and finally relaxed.
Think you can let your spoilt children pull me around and sit on an occult blanket, do you? it thought in triumph, drifting off to sleep. I think not.
So now you know it really is possible to write a story about a random object. This one was literally done on the spot just there, while writing this tutorial. It took maybe twenty minutes.
Step 5: To Conclude
Now you can write a short story about a random object. Just look around whatever room you happen to be in and write about it. It might be the best story you've ever done, or it might be the worst. So long as you've written something original, it doesn't really matter.
And try not to edit them until you really have to. Spontaneity works best for short stories, and basic is key. Keep it simple.
If you've read this and written anything about a random object, post it up somewhere online and send me a link on here. Good or bad, I'll read it and give a polite review.