In addition to being an amazing writer, Poe was apparently a rather opinionated one. In his essay, The Philosophy of Composition, Poe reveals five secrets for writing vivid poems and short stories.
Keep it short. The very best literary works can be read, according to Poe, in only one sitting. I can’t say that I entirely agree with this but you should definitely keep it focused. Writing that rambles and wonders has lost many a reader.
Focus on the desired effect. Poe calls it the choice of an impression. In some of his work, he wanted the reader to focus on beauty. In other pieces, to be drawn to tears. What is the emotion that you want your reader to feel? For you, the author, to work toward this end, you need to make a decision. Do you want your reader to laugh? To take up environmental activism? You need to decide before you can achieve it.
Select your tone. What is the mood of this particular piece of writing? Poe achieved this mood by using a word or image as a repeated refrain. In The Raven, it is the word Nevermore. In The Tell Tale Heart, it is the beating of the heart. What can you use to create the desired effect in your story?
Choose your characters. Only after deciding on the many abstract features of a piece, did Poe work on his characters. I’m not sure that I would recommend this approach. Face it, how many of his characters do you really remember? Bingo — the RAVEN. For me, that’s pretty much it although I remember the mood of his work all too well.
Select the setting. If you think Poe is late in getting around to his characters, he is even later with the setting, but the way he works it makes sense. Only once he knows the tone and effect can he set it in the right place.
I’m not sure how effective doing each of these things in this order would be, but I tempted to give it a shot. Anyone else up to the challenge?