The Writers Almanac

April 14, 2018
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Writing a book or short story can be hard, I’ll admit. It can seem daunting, overwhelming even, for a new writer looking to make their way onto the front page of Teen Ink. To help the new writer out, I’ve compiled some one paragraph tips that you can quickly refer to-think of it as the ‘Writer's Almanac.’


Honestly,the hardest part for me is struggling with inspiration. I often force writing a (short)story, and it comes out in clique stories that have the same frame as any other young adult book. My only tip is to let the inspiration flow. When you have a random story idea, write it down before you forget. I have thousands of story tidbits that I’ve never expanded on, but they’re always waiting for me.


Expand. Expand. Expand. The single most important word when writing a story,and you’ll probably hear me repeat the word at least ten times in this single paragraph. Expanding can turn a two page story into four, possibly five pages if you stretch it. For example, take this sentence: I waited at the bus stop, standing next to a man. Nothing out of the extraordinary, right? Here’s the same sentence, but expanded: Cold and miserable, I waited at the dirty bus stop with a grungy old man that smelled of burnt plastic. By simply expanding, we get a whole different beast of a sentence altogether, a sentence that the reader can connect to in real life; you can almost see the bus stop; smell the grungy old man; feel the discomfort of the character. That is the power of expanding.


Revision is the second best thing for a writer. After you go through with a rough copy, go through and read the story, expand and revise. A sentence that sounded good at the time of writing might look stupid and separated once you start revising. You’ll also probably find numerous grammatical errors from when you first wrote the story.


Enjoy writing the story. If your going through, and not enjoying it, it will show. I have story tid bits that I thought would make a good plot, but just derailed until it became tedious to write it(not to mention horribly clique).
Find what works for you when writing a story. No two writers have the exact same strategy when writing a story or book. I have found that I personally just start writing, and when I feel myself derail, then I might write out the basic “bones” of the story. Others, including my friends, will write out the “bones” of their story, then expand onto it with the “meat.” When I have to write a story that’s under, let’s say four pages, I’ll write out a basic story with about a page of room for expanding so I don’t go over the limit.


And finally, observe and apply. Look at one of your favorite authors and see what they did to make their books so compelling. What is it the plot? literally language? or anything else? After you learn to pick these things out, apply them to books your reading. Often times I’ll be reading a paragraph and I’ll “auto correct” the sentence into something that flows better.






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