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How to Write a Good Story

As much as I’d love to be, I cannot say that I am all-knowing or even the most qualified individual when it comes to the topic of writing. My lengthy list of credentials (“lengthy,” of course, said sarcastically) include highschool as well as college classes on the subject, a good deal of studying through books and the internet articles myself, and- most importantly- learning through the mistakes I’ve made in my own writing. At the moment, I’ve finished four short stories, a novella, and I am not working on my first novel. This is all to say, I am not a genius. But I do hope at least that what little knowledge I can impart will be useful in some small way to all of you that are reading. So, without further delay, here is my list.

1. Plan

Whether you are writing a short story, a novella, or a full length novel, planning is imperative! Don’t start a story on a vague idea that you thought up one night hoping that it will somehow straighten itself out in the end. Planning will save you hours of senseless and boring editing. Take time to get to know your characters. Develop the setting. Create a back story for your characters even if you do not plan include all of the details in your story.

2. Love your work.

If you do not love what you are writing, don’t waste your time! Wait and develop an idea that you can get excited about before you start writing, especially if you are planning on writing anything longer than a short story. Trying to write without having your heart in your work can be both painful and tiring, and your effort will often end with frustration and an abandoned, half-written script.

3. Edit, edit, edit.

One fo the most important part of righting is editting (misspellings intended).Though it may be tedious at times, it’s also just as important as the actual writing. No publisher is going to look twice at a work with awkward sentences, misspellings, and bad grammar no matter how good the story is. So take the time to go through, and fix the mistakes that even the best writers make on a first draft.

4. Read for yourself.

Read a lot! Personally, I enjoy reading many of the classics. Famous writers are famous and successful for a reason; they are good writers. Pick up whatever useful tips you can learn from them, and incorporate them in your own writing. It’s ok to try to write like the greats. Obviously, I’m not telling you to copy them, but use some of you favorite authors to influence your own personal writing style. The more you read the more naturally writing will come to you.

5. Be original!

Ok, admittedly this one can be quite difficult at first. My first word of advice would be DON’T WRITE ABOUT VAMPIRES. Even if your idea is completely original, vampires will immediately be categorized with a particular set of books that have been popular recently. However, vampires are not the only thing that should be avoided. Say away from cliché plots such as the following: An underdog sports team pulling together and winning a championship; a love story in which the two lovers meet, fall in love, get into a fight, and finally end up together in the end; a fantasy novel which includes destroying something to defeat the evil empire; a person being chosen to fight to the death with a group of other people in an arena. And the list goes on and on. It’s ok to gain a little inspiration from other plot lines but be very, very sure that you are not simply tweaking someone else’s story line and calling it your own. Be original. There are thousands upon thousands of interesting ideas that haven’t yet been written. Discover one for yourself, and I guarantee you will write something exciting.




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primepower said...
Jul. 1, 2012 at 2:31 pm:

I'd also add to that writing different drafts. Though that may fall under editing/revision, some are likely to get confused over editing the already written story and writing another draft. To me it's not the same. Editing is for fixing grammar/spelling, and drafts are for improving the overall tone of the story. I usually write several drafts with a plot twist here, completely new scene there. It helps with the tweaking and overall improvement of the story. As a matter of fact, I've written ... (more »)

 
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