Writing Short Stories with Subtxt

Writing a short story in Subtxt works the same way it does when writing a full-length screenplay or novel. You use the same pieces and the same methodologies—you just use less of them.

Using InstantScenes

If you’re writing something relatively simple, like a short 1200-1800 word article, or a three to four page short story (even a Calvin and Hobbes-sized comic strip 😃), Subtxt's InstantScene feature can help you structure what happens when.

To learn in great detail how to use this feature, read Writing a Scene with Subtxt on Narrative First.

The Structure of a Short Story

If you want to write something a bit more complex, something between an InstantScene and complete story, you can simply use Subtxt’s Build a Story features—and then leave out the parts of the story you don’t want to write.

Short stories are simply a slice of a complete story. They tell a complete “story” of their particular focus, but they’re not fully complete in the kind of argument they’re making (I.e., their Premise will only be partially proven).

Keeping It Short

To get started writing a short story in Subtxt, first create a Premise in the Premise Builder that approximates what you want to say with your story.

Once built, drop into your story and determine what aspects of the complete story you want to focus on in this short story. Typically, short stories focus on either the Main Character Throughline or the Objective Story Throughline (and sometimes both).

Develop your chosen Throughline as you would in the Illustrating section. Make sure you stay out the Transit level. If you go any lower, your short story will quickly become a long story. 😊

Plot Only What You Need

After illustrating the single Throughline of your short story, move down to the Plotting section and add one Moment for each Act of your story. Once added, drag and drop or add the Storybeat Transit from that Throughline into that Moment.

Repeat this method for the remaining three Acts.

Congratulations - your short story is now complete. 🎉

Last Minute Alterations

All that’s left are a simple tweaks and adjustments here and there for spelling and storytelling (you can do it right there in the Writing section), and then download the final product to take into your favorite writing app.

You just used Subtxt to write a compelling and meaningful short story.

Additional Resources

There are several articles on Narrative First—and even a class here in Subtxt—that explore writing a short story further:

To Tell a Tale, To Craft a Story compares two children's books Scuffy the Tugboat and Sam and the Firefly to discuss what happens when you do and don't use some sort of structure to guide the flow of narrative events.

Back to Basics: Structuring a Short Story is the class in the Writers Room where I go over the step-by-step procedure towards using Subtxt to write your short story.

Both Resurrecting the Flying Kreisslers and Writing Short Stories with Dramatica use a fantastic short story written by Logan and The Queen's Gambit writer/director Scott Frank to explore the structure of shorter material.

The Structure of a Short Story covers the theoretical narrative concepts behind short stories (as related to complete stories).

Piper: A Complete Story in Six Minutes relates the subtextual structure behind Pixar's animated short film, Piper.