Tips to Creating a Better Story
Writing is a release for people all over; a way to express feelings, ideas, actions, trials, anything that has happened in life can be lived again through the pen. Just because people choose to use writing as an outlet does not mean that they are then writers. One would not consider a person who draws an artist just because they know how to use a pencil. There are ways to improve writing, tricks that help build a more compelling story, just as there are ways to improve a work of art. I do believe that writing is a gift, a true writer still needs to learn how to polish their skills but they do not need to learn how to write. These are tricks for people who love writing and for writers alike.
Make an Outline
If you're a very logic person or the story you're writing has a lot of details then making an outline is key. The outline doesn't have to include every single piece of the story, it can simply be made of important information about each character. An outline helps keep things in order when stories become too long and detailed to constantly be looking back.
Go to places like We Heart It. Create sets with pictures that represent your story or your characters. You never have to let anyone else see them but it will help when it comes time to describe something.
Especially of first person. If you're writing a first person story think about the way you go about your day. How do you think when someone is talking? What do you think when you're getting dressed? If the main character is narrating the story and she/he is not talking directly to the reader chances are they aren't explaining every inch of themselves. They're observing the world around them.
Take a moment. Breathe. Close your eyes and think of exactly what you're writing. Are they going to school? Being kidnapped? Going on vacation? Getting in an argument? How would you feel? Put yourself in their shoes, make them a real person.Make yourself feel exactly how you think they should feel. Scared, sad, happy, angry. Feel it. Meditate on it.
Make sure what you're writing is accurate. Realism is always hard, but the truth paints a more beautiful picture then a well-dressed lie. Fabrication is 2/3's writing but the other 1/3 is truth. God honest, law binding truth that can't be argued with, especially if your writing original fiction.
Write what you know
There is nothing easier to write down then your own life. There is nothing you know more about, there is no one you are more knowledgeable on. The whole story doesn't have to be about you. One character could have all the same traits you have or your best friend has. People will be amazed how acurately you can portray a character and it will be because you are portraying someone you know.
Finding grammar mistakes is like finding a needle in a stack of needles. It all looks the same in your head because your brain can fix the mistakes automatically. So start from the end, read the entire thing backwards. There will be no mistakes because your brain will find them easily.
Watch an Animal
Animals have some serious personality. If you want to write a physical action to a unique personality watch a cat or a dog. The way you call their name and they snuff you off. The way you try to focus on something and they jump in your lap, eager for attention. Animals are like humans, they have personality traits that make them instantly recognizable. So follow your dog or cat around and focus on how they behave, it'll make for better character descriptions and actions.
This isn't Disney Channel
Everything isn't perfect in the end. The bitch doesn't stop being a bitch and the quiet girl doesn't suddenly become the center of attention. So keep to character. If your character is nerdy and shy around large groups of people, don't suddenly have her chilling at a party. If your guy is a total sports junky don't suddenly have him turn into a sensitive, caring, sweetheart. It doesn't happen like that.
Make a Playlist
I love listening to music while I write, I usually end up finding a song that perfectly sums up my story. So find your song, put on some music and think about how the song makes you feel, how you want the story to start and end. If you hit a block change the song, change the playlist entirely. Music can make you feel and that is exactly what makes a writer, feeling something that someone else cannot.
Talk it out
Share your story with someone. I talk to my sister, my best friend or even my mom about what I'm writing. I ask their opinion because sometimes they've been through something I haven't. Sometimes they relate to something better then I can. So talk it out with someone. You don't have to give them all the details, just a rough outline of your ideas. Maybe they can help.
You should have one. A story doesn't write itself so you should know where you want it to start and end. You don't have to know everything inbetween but you need a place to go from and a destination to arrive at.
Your story should be like your child. With each chapter it grows and you should feel proud of your ability to nurture it. Truman Capote once wrote that 'finishing a book is like taking your child to the backyard and shooting them in the head.' It's true because you spend time pouring your heart into something you believe in. If you do not believe in it then stop writing it.
There are two sides to every story. Perspective plays a big role in third person. A narrator in third person knows both sides, holds all the answers, can see everything. A narrator in third person is the god of that small fictional world. The job of a narrator in third person is to write both sides, the good and the bad, the light and the shadows. There is no one right side and as a narrator it is your job to present both sides as beautifully and unbiasedly as you can. To create no monsters, only humans.
Don't be Afraid
Of criticism, of honesty, of admiration, of something new. Don't be afraid to experiment in your writing. Trying a new writing style, try a new genre. Practice writing poetry or try your hand at journaling. It doesn't have to be hard or scary. Writing is writing and maybe you'll discover that you're really good at something. I tried poetry once, I was completely shit. But I did it. I tried. You should always be willing to try something new.
Is a conversation. Let your characters have conversations. Not one character talking and the other answering. But honest conversations, back and forth. Their words should not sound like yours because you are not your character (unless you are). When your characters are speaking they should be able to relieve something about their personality. Maybe they are extremely articulate, they have a fantastic vocabulary. Maybe they have a really dirty mouth. Maybe they don't speak so well, aren't so smart. Maybe they say too much, they're too wordy. All that is important and can shape the way you write a good story. It can set apart your characters.
Only when you need to. Maybe you curse all the time in real life but that doesn't mean your story needs to be littered with expletives. Curse words are like any other word in the dictionary, you should use it when you need it. If you're just saying fuck because you can then erase it. If you want to say it because that is the type of person your character is then by all means, curse away. But only when their talking. If their not then don't say it. Cursing is different for everyone. Some people only say mild words while other aren't afriad to use every curse in the book. Remember that too.
This isn't a Text Message
So stop abbreviating your words. Use correct grammar. Say 'your' when you mean 'your' and 'their' when you mean 'their'. Stop shorting words or using the wrong word. If you don't know which works then look it up. You're on the computer...google it.
Don't all look like Barbie or Ken. So stop making all your girls super gorgeous with big boobs and tiny waists. They don't all walk around in stripper heals or tight dresses. All the guys don't have abs or surfer hair. Make your character believable. When someone reads it let them think 'that girl/guy sounds like me'. Human beings are interesting, not plastic dolls. (I don't mean that you can't have a gorgeous girl or guy, there are plenty in real life, but they don't wake up like that in the morning. So make them human too.)
Are everything! Naming your characters like they live in a soap opera makes them unbelievable. Have a reason behind their name. Make it mean something to the story or to their personality. Have it related to their ethnicity or their parents culture. Or simply check out a social security list of popular names for a certain year and pick one. But don't give your characters outlandish names that mean nothing at all to them or to anyone. If you give a character a unique name know your reason. Does it have to do with the story? Does it have to do with who they are or who theyr parents were? Make sure it makes sense!
So that's it. Twenty tips to help you out and increase your writing skills. Try them out, take them for a test drive. And if you have any more helpful tips let me know. I'm always eager.
Something I want to point out that I didn't list as a tip is this: write everyday. Even if you only write for ten minutes, take some time for yourself and write. It can be in your journal or you could just write a short, one-page moment in time. It can turn into a story or it can just be there for you to look back on. It won't make you a better writer but it will help you practice an practice makes better!
Writing is like driving in the dark, you only have your headlights to show you a few feet ahead but you can make the entire journery that way.
April 17th, 2013 at 06:54pm
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