My first, probably most time-consuming suggestion for a Christmas gift is to write a short story. In this post, I am going to tell you about several short stories that I have written and given to others, demonstrate the advantages of this creative gift and advise you how to do it.
When we read a book or a short story, we usually identify with its protagonists to embark on exciting adventures. What if the story was not about some hero vaguely related to us, but about us in person? I found this idea so thrilling that I have already written about more than a dozen of real-life people. If you want to learn about the details and find some inspiration, read about my short stories. Those of you who already know what and for whom they want to write may skip this part and move on to the place where I summarise the advantages of short stories written for specific people and give some hints.
My short stories
Write a short story when you lack money for a regular gift
I gifted my first short story when I was in primary school, and my pocket money was not enough to buy presents for my numerous relatives. Naturally, no one expected me to play Santa back then. Yet I wanted to give my loved ones something of value. Having won an honourable mention in a literary contest a year before, I was rather confident about my writing skills. As a result, I wrote a fairy tale for my aunt and uncle, in which they roamed magical lands as kids to restore the time that they have accidentally stopped. I suppose that even my parents envied them this gift, which took me quite a lot of time and energy to prepare.
Write a short story when you want to send a gift abroad
I wrote my next short story for the birthday of my Portuguese friend whom I met at a choir festival and with whom I later exchanged letters for several years. Although I was a little older then, the costs of shipment stopped me from sending her anything tangible. Besides, I decided that it would be more valuable to give her a fairy tale about a panda who discouraged people from building a highway and saved her species with her beautiful voice.
Write a short story when you want to prepare one gift for a group of people
Several years later, I wanted to give something personal to a group of Swiss who participated in a language camp that I enjoyed very much. It seemed too much to think of an individual gift for each of them or to send them all the same thing. Therefore, I did what I could do best and wrote another short story. This time I described real events that took place during the camp in a magical way, presenting our Swiss teachers and friends as delegates from a fairy land. The idea was so successful that I continued the story with part two and three of the fairy land saga, describing my subsequent visits to Switzerland.
Write a short story when you want to convey something
I have also written short stories to serve a specific purpose. Once, I wrote a short story for my boyfriend’s birthday. It had the form of his own diary, in which I presented his bright future. This way I wanted to show him how much I believed in him and that I would like to be a part of his future.
Write a short story when no other gift seems suitable
When my grandparents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, I could either chip in to buy a big present with other relatives or give them something small individually. The problem was that my grandparents seemed to already have everything they could want or need. Therefore, I wrote them a short story in which I transported them to the times of their youth and infatuation with each other, and expressed gratitude on behalf of all of their offspring for laying the grounds of our family.
Write a short story when you want to preserve an important moment
When I was pregnant, I tried to write a short story for my child. Since I had to lie down for a couple of months, I had more than suitable conditions to do it. That’s how I wrote a short story about a baby in its mummy’s tummy journeying for 9 months with its enigmatic bundle.
After I gave birth, I was no less inspired. During my daughter’s frequent naps in the first months of her life, I wrote her a short tale about a hamster who kept his mum constantly worried. Fortunately, he had a wise grandmother, who helped the others accept the fact that the hamster’s behaviour didn’t match their expectations.
Perhaps both of these short stories were rather gifts for me and other mums than for my child. Perhaps I will never use them as bedtime stories. But I think my daughter will once enjoy the fact that she is the protagonist of a number of short stories.
Advantages of writing short stories for others
Summing up, stories written for others as gifts have a lot of advantages:
- The receivers feel special because you dedicated our time and thoughts to them, and they have become literary heroes.
- The gift doesn’t entail any expenses.
- A short story may easily be sent abroad at the cost of a regular post stamp or per Internet.
- A single short story with numerous characters may serve to make several people happy.
- You may use a short story to convey something indirectly (your emotions, encouragement, etc.).
- A personal tale may be a good gift for someone who doesn’t care much for regular gifts or who doesn’t know what to ask for.
- With the help of a short story you may preserve an important moment in your life or the life of others. Even if it turns out that such a story is currently not a suitable gift, it may gain in sentimental value later.
How to write a short story for others?
Naturally, there is no one answer. If you look at the variety of the short stories I have given as presents so far, you will quickly notice that the content and form depend on WHO writes them, FOR WHOM, WHEN and FOR WHAT PURPOSE.
Children are most familiar with the form of fairy tales. Thus, you may write such tales for them or encourage your offspring to use their imagination to make gifts for others.
When you write for adults, in turn, consider what form they are most used to. If your granny hates fantasy, don’t turn her into a dragon and make her fight swords with dwarves! [The only exceptions are short stories written by children. When kids write for their parents or grandparents, even the weirdest ideas are greatly enjoyed].
As regards the content, first and foremost it should be positive. After all we don’t give presents to make someone miserable. Therefore, we shouldn’t point out to someone’s shortcomings, but instead write tales and stories with happy endings, in which your nearest and dearest use their real virtues to defeat villains and realise their dreams.
Creative writing is a topic that I could write about for hours. If you want me to discuss any issue in more details (e.g. the principles of fairy tale writing), help you with plot development or add a link to one of my stories to this post, let me know in the comments below!
And before you do so, sign in to the newsletter to read a story I wrote as a special gift for you!
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– In the short stories that I encourage you to write, the protagonists should bear the names of the gift recipients. The only exceptions are tales for children. If a child knew, and not just suspected on the basis of some similarities, that it is the protagonist of a fairy tale, it could be too much bothered with the hardships that the hero has to endure before the happy ending.
– If the recipient is not interested in narratives at all, try writing other type of prose, e.g. a handbook. For instance: ‘How to find the love of your life. A Guidebook for Betty: When you put on your superb flowery skirt and sit next to the Bethesda Fountain with ‘East of Eden’, you will definitely attract the attention of this smart guy who frequently walks his pointer there…’ or ‘Alice says: Never start a day without a morning coffee and singing “Good morning sunshine”.’
– Whatever you may think, it is not a suggestion just for philology graduates. It is not the syntax, grammar, elaborate vocabulary or correct punctuation that matter here, but the fact that you put effort into it and placed the other person in the centre of interesting events. And if you are really put off by the idea of writing a story, which you associate with boring school compositions, try creating a photo comic!