Some of you may already know, before I became a full time blogger I wrote a few fiction titles. Because I didn't apply any marketing or after-thought to my products, and because my fan base was mostly imaginary at the time, of course they didn't make me wealthy. Since then, things have improved for me, as you know, with the digital media side of my writing. This doesn't mean that I have lost interest in writing fiction. Not at all, and when I find the time I intend to begin writing it again. As I hope any of you are doing as well, when we need to find our feet in a new world of work, we need to do training and education. For me, being thrown in at the deep-end, this meant taking courses while working. Long term readers of Alternative Fruit can probably remember the days before I had learned much about online media. Thankfully, these days, the blog is a great deal better.
I haven't only been looking into education for digital media. I've also been learning writing. Getting back to the basics and building up from solid foundations has been something I wanted to do. So maybe my spelling is passable and my grammar is adequate, however there is a lot more to writing than that. Some of you may know, the English language has various strains and styles, each one can be applied in various ways. Writing for blogs is not the same as writing for the boss, or for your MP. As well as doing the vital work on business and consumable digital content writing that had to be done, I've also been looking at how to write better stories. Rather than selling you the courses one by one, if you want to take one you will I am sure, I thought I'd give you a fairly wide reaching run-down of the key points that make a story worth reading.
Start With The Essentials
A skeleton story made up of key points is an excellent way of starting. We often have it in our minds somewhere as we write. Get it down and make it a go-to place for inspiration when we need it.
Why These People And Places?
You'll have some characters and a place where the story happens. Why have you chosen them? Remembering this helps to write believable and memorable situations. It's okay to be inventive and create oddballs, weirdos, and strange unreal worlds, but there has to be a reason for it. Make it work in the story, not just part of it.
Did something on TV frustrate you? Did a story in a film or maybe real life feel wrong and awkward? Those feelings are really useful in story telling. You know what you didn't like about your experience so use the idea to create something fictional that still makes use of those arousing sensations.
Be Careful With Magic
Readers can feel cheated when a character does something magical or extremely lucky in order to escape danger. Unforeseen circumstances work well in many situations, except the one that solves all the problems. This robs the reader of a valuable part of the story.
Don't Over Do It
You have to just accept what's done as done and get on with it. Re-arranging and adapting, fixing the not broken and playing with perfection doesn't get us anywhere. Try to accept that sometimes we are too harsh for our own good and just go for it. It'll be okay. If something really doesn't want to feel right, let go of it entirely and come back to it when you're inspired.
Why Should The Reader Care?
Give us a reason to give a damn about what happens next! No-one cares about boring people with boring lives, we read for excitement and entertainment. We want to bond with people who are out of the everyday, people who give us something to escape into. Let's have characters that we can attach to and enjoy spending time with, as well as people we can't abide of course. It's in the mix.
It's Not About You
Not many stories make the author a main character, we have to put ourselves in their shoes. Often we can use our personality in ways to design characters but they're always different people. That makes the dynamics of the story their most interesting. Having said this, the people have to be believable so when we write them, we do have to imagine how we would feel and react when given the situations ourselves. Then simply tweak it to accommodate for the character's own personality.
What's The Point?
You're not just writing this for fun, there's something underneath that makes you want to write. What is it? How does that benefit the reader? Don't put it down necessarily but keep it in mind while writing.
Diversify Your Beliefs
Different people think differently, so each character has to reflect this. Again, it's not about you but fictional people so give them opinions and ideas that make the story seem like it's set in a real society. It can be tricky to write confidently in something we don't personally believe in, however it gets easier.
Try Not To Be Too Obvious
Get over the first idea and move on to the next one. The first thing popping in your head is probably the same thing popping in the reader's head too. You're the author, show the reader why you get to write books by being more creative than they are. Do it every time, no excuses.
If in doubt, write. Once the text is there, it can be worked on and appraised. If you never put the idea down, you risk losing it forever.
Reflect On What Made You Like A Story
There is a reason why a given story resonated with you. It'll be because it feels like it identifies with a part of your life somehow. You can relate to it in a way that feels good. If you can make a note of the times when this happens, you'll be able to make use of that same feeling in your own work. This isn't copying, it's taking inspiration. Don't just copy stories to call your own. Also, try to mix your sources, a pinch of this and a dollop of that.
What Definitely Will Never Happen?
Be mindful of where you don't want to go, what you don't want to happen, and what you decide is not the issue of the story. When these things are down, finding their opposite and equal parts can be much easier.
How Does It All End?
You need to think about the end scene and have it operational before you finish the story. This way you can feed into the final chapters at intervals through-out the book and help the reader to piece together the parts as they go. It also helps when including things like irony and metaphor.
Less Filling, More Cake
Getting to know the characters is important but we can do that while they go on their adventures. We don't need to see them drinking a cup of tea with their mum for half an hour to get to know the lead. Have them doing what they're meant to be doing.
Make It Hard For The Character
What are their skills and attributes? What are they comfortable with? Readers want to see people having a hard time so through in some curve-balls and see how they react. Try to break the flow of your character and get them to respond.
It sounds counter-intuitive however all stories have a certain way of flowing that people expect. They begin with an everyday situation, and we meet the characters. Then something out of the ordinary happens. This causes the situation to change. Something happens again to bring in the rest of the story. A next change happens when we are well into the story, and finally and ending brings it all together.
Don't Hang Up On Key Points
Tell the story and bear the points in mind, don't force everything to make sense according to predetermined factors. Things will work out and factors will make themselves apparent as you go. Something will feel wrong if it doesn't fit your ideals, have faith and just write.
Remember It's Entertainment
People read for pleasure, they want to laugh, cry, and smile. You're giving them the experiences for that to happen. We have to want success for the character, we have to want to pick up the book and read the next bit. Trying to satisfy an inner need to be heard is not the same as pleasing readers. Remember it's not about you.
There you have it, a run down of extremely useful writing tips for creative writers everywhere. Why not bookmark this handy link for Free ISBN and Self Publishing.
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