Having recently finished the Story A Day May challenge, I am full of opinions on writing short stories. And how could I not be. I've just written (almost) 30 stories in 30 days. On top of that, I read just as many (and more) on /r/writingprompts to see how others handled various topics.
It wasn't long before I saw an issue with the short stories there and my own short stories. These stories boil down to what I call "Boom, mike drop" stories (for reference: deadpool mike drop). Stories that end with a big drop of information, a twist, one that will leave you speechless as a reader but as a writer, you don't have to answer for or explain.
You just write. You setup the story, follow what the reader may think you'll write about, and then twist it in the end without an explanation, leaving everything open-ended.
That's what /r/writingprompts is pretty much about. After about the first 10 stories that I've written, I got into a habit of writing in a specific format. What I call the "joke" format (setup->punchline) ending with a "Boom, mike drop":
Here's a good example. I'm looking at a prompt: "A hacker finally solves Cicada 3301 after working on it for 3 years, and is admited into the secret society. What happens next?" link. I decided to brainstorm a bit and here's how the aforementioned steps play out:
Go ahead and read the rest of the responses for that prompt and you'll see a similar pattern. As with jokes, you can add tags or additional "twists". Let's see one for the original story. Where did we leave off? Oh yeah, Johnny just died:
And you could keep going to your heart's content. Will that make a good story? Probably not. But quality of my writing aside, you get the point.
After about my 20th story, I grew sick of writing this way. I had to leave /r/writingprompts and start writing more esoteric stories that did not depend on the "mike drop" structure. It was difficult at first but it quickly dawned on me that I enjoyed writing stories with more varied structures and enjoyed them much more when reading them.