Alice Adams's Pattern For Writing A Short Story

Alice Adams’s Pattern For Writing A Short Story


Writers Write is a writing resource. In this post we share Alice Adams’ Pattern For Writing A Short Story.

Alice Adams was an American novelist, short story writer, and university professor. She was born 14 August 1926 and died 27 May 1999.

She wrote 11 novels but is best known for her short stories, which can be read in The Stories of Alice Adams.

Adams sometimes followed a pattern she called ABDCE in outlining a short story, which she described to her friend Anne Lamott.

Alice Adams’s Pattern For Writing A Short Story

The ABDCE Pattern for Writing a Short Story

“The letters stand for Action, Background, Development, Climax, and Ending.

  1. You begin with action that is compelling enough to draw [the reader] in, make us want to know more.
  2. Background is where you … see and know who these people are, how they’ve come to be together, what was going on before the opening of the story.
  3. Then you develop these people, so that we learn what they care most about. The plot – the drama, the actions, the tension – will grow out of that.
  4. You move them along until everything comes together in the climax, after which things are different for the main characters, different in some real way.
  5. And then there is the ending: what is our sense of who these people are now, what are they left with, what happened, and what did it mean?”

Resources For Short Story Writers:

  1. How To Show And Not Tell In Short Stories – Workbook
  2. The Short Story Checklist Workbook
  3. Short Cuts – Course

Source for image

 by Amanda Patterson

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Top Tip: Find out more about our workbooks and online courses in our shop.

This article has 1 comment

  1. Gertrude

    Thanks Amanda. Alice’s tips are exactly what I need in my carry-on for writing journey. God bless you..

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