Short story writing

Writing Example

The Plough”The heavy clouds which have passed over our horizon recently indicate a time of heavy rain. Perhaps the rain this year will enrich the soil, and damp soil usually requires ploughing.” That is what Hushum began to think about as he wandered round the Kamouni market. As soon as the thought of ploughing occured to him, he remembered that he needed a good plough. The old one he used last year had got its blade damaged, and was no longer sharp enough to pierce the ground.
He went up to Ahmad the plough-maker and let his eyes rove from one plough to another without trying any of them. Finally, Ahmad called out to him with pleasure, “It’s been a long time since you took a plough from me. Try this one, Hushum.”
“I only want a blade.”
“Don’t worry. You can take a whole plough. The price is low this year.”
“I want you to make a blade for my plough. A blade like the one you made for me some time ago.”
“OK, but there’s no harm in taking another plough so that if your old one breaks you can resort to the new one. That way you won’t have to stop work.”
“You really want me to take a new plough?”
“Yes, because it’s in your interests.”
“And the blade. Will you make me a blade?”
“Yes, right now.”
Ahmad bent over a piece of iron which he began to test with his hands. Then he approached the fire where the apprentice was on his knees. He gestured to him to stoke the fire while he threw on the sawdust.
The apprentice began to fan the fire with the large bellows, making them move up and down with continuous monotonous sound. Sparks flew around Ahmad, but he gazed at Hushum, who was meanwhile holding a plough in his fists, testing it. When he turned his gaze to the heel of the plough, he noticed that the heel was not up to the standard he required, so he took another one, checked the heel, then looked at the ear, then took it in his hand and struck it with his thumb nail. However, when he passed his hand over the blade, he was not pleased. He remembered the blade of his pld plough, whose like he had never found since and probably never would again. He had indeed used it for a long time, and lent it sometimes to his friends before it was damaged. Yes, Ahmad was good at making ploughs, and could make a blade as good as or better than the old one. But why was he asking him to buy a new plough?
Ahmad said to him, “Haven’t you begun work yet? The soil is moist and many people have started ploughing their land.”
Hushum replied, “Not yet. I am waiting for the soil to become really wet. A few showers are not enough. I don’t want my seed to spoil. I will plough my land, but I always say to myself that although it is better for a man to plough his land and sow it with wheat, so that he does not harvest grass when others are harvesting wheat, nevertheless the wheat has to be of good quality and so I wait for some good rain before I plough.”
The he sat down on the new saddle that he had bought that moring, listening to Ahmad who was continuing with a smile.
Hushum replied, “And a new blade. God bless you.”
Ahmad took a piece of iron from the fire with the tongs, placed it on the anvil and began to beat it repeatedly moving it from time to time. Then he put it back in the fire again, telling the workman to pump the bellows.
Hushum went on, “No-one in the market is as good as you at making blades. You must make good money.”
Ahmad sighed and said, “Not enough.”
“Why’s that?”
“I could earn a lot if it wasn’t for …”, and he pointed to another blacksmith.
“Where did he come from?”
“From the town. He left his shop there, and has come to bother me.”
“The world is full of annoyances.”
“But God’s provision is distributed to all mankind. I sell me wares at a low price that he can’t match. Will you buy a plough?”
“To tell the truth I haven’t got the money. If you can wait until next week, I may have enough to buy one.”
“Don’t worry, Hushum. Choose your plough now and pay when it convenient.”
“Thank you, but I would prefer not to take it until I can pay. You know how I am. I don’t like to get into debt.”
“As you wish.”
Ahmad has got the impression that he wanted to make do with his old plough, with a few repairs – like the blade for instance. How could he persuade him to buy a new plough?
Hushum was thinking, “I really don’t want to burden myself with debts. It is better for a man to have to stop work. But I am still working by myself, and if work stops, I won’t lose anything. I will do something else until market day when I can buy a new plough. Ahmad is good at making ploughs and if he makes me a blade, I won’t need a new one for a long time.”
Ahmad asked him, “Is your old plough one of mine?”
Hushum replied, “Yes.”
“But it’s very very old. It must be falling to pieces by now.”
“No. It’ll last another year or two.”
“A new blade needs a good plough.”
“Not always. Its handles have become smooth so I can work with it easily. If I don’t happen to take a completely new plough, will you get upset with me?”
“No. I just want your best interests. I just felt that it would be best for you to take another plough, just as a spare.”
He took the blade out of the fire and began to beat it, fast this time. The workman assisted him and they took it in turns to do the beating.
Hushum kept thinking, “Beat the iron while it is hot and plough the land when it is wet.”
Ahmad plunged the blade in the water to cool it a little. Then he looked for a wire to put through the eye of the blade, and then gave it to Hushum, telling him to be careful not to let it burn him.
Hushum took it from him with his left hand and put his right hand in his pocket. Immediately he remembered that he hadn’t got any money left. He had bought the saddle this morning. He was very embarrassed about this, until it occurred to him to leave the saddle as a deposit. But Ahmad interrupted by saying, “If you haven’t got any money now, until next market day.”
“The problem is that I bought a saddle. If you would like, I can leave it with you until …”
“No. Don’t worry, Hushum. Take both your blade and the saddle. The clouds are leaden and are urging you to hurry. Quickly.”
Hushum went on his way carrying the blade in one hand and the saddle in the other. As he left he kept on mumbling : “Thank you … The clouds … The plough … The blade … Thank you.”

Learning Points

  • If you want to be a good writer, you need to read. Read for both inspiration and research and explore as many different genres as possible (adventure, fairy tale, science fiction, romance, mystery, …).
  • A short story should be broken down into three parts or three axes : Beginning, Middle and Ending and each act should be clearly defined.
  • Next, it’s time to write. Be sure to establish points of view and writing tenses and also don’t forget to use dialogues to make your characters more believable.
  • After you finish your story, read it carefully to check for mistakes. Create a checklist to make sure you have not missed anything.


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