You want to write a story. You have an idea brewing in your head, just waiting to be put down on paper (or screen). But how do you actually WRITE a good story? Where do you even start?
Never fear, beginner writers! This helpful guide will give you some tips and tricks on how to get started writing the story of your dreams. With a bit of elbow grease and a lot of imagination, you’ll be well on your way to becoming the next great author. Let’s get started!
1. Develop Your Characters
This is arguably the most important part of writing a good story. Your readers need to connect with your characters; they need to be fully developed with nuanced personalities, backgrounds, and motivations. Luckily, there are a few different ways to go about doing this.
One way is to do what’s called a “character sketch.” This is basically a profile of your character that includes things like their name, age, height, job, family life, etc. Once you have the basic facts down, you can start thinking about things like your character’s personality traits, values, and goals. What does your character want in life? What are they afraid of? What motivates them? The more fully developed your characters are, the easier it will be for your readers to connect with them and become invested in their story.
Some good ways to further develop your characters are to,
Give Them A Backstory
One of the best ways to make your characters feel real is to give them a backstory. What experiences have shaped them into the people they are today? Consider their childhood, their education, their relationships—these things will help you understand your character on a deeper level and, as a result, write them more effectively. Not to mention, providing your readers with a glimpse into your character’s backstory will make them feel more invested in their journey.
Make Them Flawed
Nobody’s perfect, and neither should your characters be. Give them some quirks, some flaws, something that makes them human. Otherwise, they’ll come across as one-dimensional and boring. You want your readers to relate to your characters—and the best way to do that is by making them relatable. So don’t be afraid to let your characters make mistakes; it’ll make them even more lovable (and human).
Give Them A Goal
Your character should have some sort of goal that they’re working towards throughout the story. What do they want? Why do they want it? This can be something as simple as wanting to get out of bed in the morning or as complicated as taking down an evil empire. Whatever it is, make sure it’s clear and concise so that both you and your readers know what’s driving your character forward.
2. Create an Engaging Plot
Now that you have your characters all sorted out, it’s time to think about what’s actually going to happen in your story. This is where you’ll need to come up with an engaging plot that will keep your readers hooked from beginning to end.
One way to do this is by creating an “inciting incident.” This is basically the event that sets everything else in motion—it’s the catalyst for the events of the rest of the story. For example, if your story is about a young girl who discovers she has magical powers, the inciting incident could be when she first uses her powers to save someone’s life. This event would then lead her on all sorts of adventures as she learns more about her abilities and tries to keep them hidden from the world at large.
Some other considerations to create an engaging plot are,
Start with a strong premise
Besides having an inciting incident, you need to start with a strong premise—in other words, the basic idea for your story. This can be anything from “a woman discovers she has the power to time travel” to “a group of friends goes on a treasure hunt.” Once you’ve got your premise, you can begin fleshing out the details of your story.
Introduce your characters early on
Your readers need to connect with your characters in order to stay invested in your story, so make sure you introduce them early on. Give each character their own distinct personality and make sure they’re likable (or at least interesting). If your readers don’t care about your characters, they won’t care about what happens to them.
Raise the stakes as the story progresses
As your story unfolds, things should get progressively more intense—otherwise, your readers will quickly become bored. You can raise the stakes by upping the ante on the conflict or adding new complications along the way. Just make sure whatever you do actually makes sense in the context of your story; otherwise, it’ll feel like you’re just throwing things in for the sake of artificially raising the stakes.
Leave room for twists and turns.
No matter how much you plan ahead, there’s always going to be some element of surprise in store when you actually start writing. Embrace these surprises and use them to add twists and turns to your plot—just make sure they’re believable within the context of your story. Unexpected twists can be really fun for both you and your readers, so don’t be afraid to let them happen.
End with a satisfying conclusion
The ending is where everything comes together—so it’s important that it ties up all the loose ends and leaves your readers satisfied. If possible, try to include a bit of resolution for each character; even if things don’t turn out perfectly for everyone, at least let them have some closure. And above all else, be careful with cliffhangers—they can frustrate your readers if not done well.
My advice is to end the major story or conflict within that book, but sub plots and stories can be unresolved and leave open story pathways for the next ones to come.
3. Write Interesting Dialogue
Besides an engaging plot, you’ll also need interesting dialogue to really bring your story to life. After all, what’s a story without some snappy back-and-forth between the characters?
One tip for writing interesting dialogue is to make sure each character has their own unique voice. This means giving them their own way of speaking—their own distinct vocabulary, mannerisms, and cadence. This can be tricky at first, but it gets easier with practice (and it’s definitely worth taking the time to get right). Remember, if your readers can’t tell one character apart from another based on how they speak, they’re going to get very confused very quickly!
Some other considerations of writing interesting and good dialogue would be,
Know Your Character’s Voice
Before you can start writing dialogue, you need to know your characters inside and out. What do they sound like? How do they speak? Do they use slang or colloquialisms? The better you know your characters, the easier it will be to write believable dialogue for them. If you’re having trouble getting started, try reading other books in your genre to get a feel for how other authors write their characters’ dialogue.
Make Your Characters Sound Like Real People
One of the easiest ways to bore your reader is to have your characters sound like they’re reading from a script. This is often the result of overthinking things or trying too hard to sound “literary.” The best way to avoid this trap is to imagine your characters having a conversation and then transcribe what they say. Of course, this won’t always be possible (nor will it always produce great results), but it’s a good starting point. You should also try reading your dialogue out loud to see how it sounds. If it feels stilted or unnatural, rewrite it until it flows smoothly.
Use Dialogue To Reveal Character
In addition to sounding realistic, your dialogue should also reveal something about your character’s personality or motivation. What do they care about? What are their fears or ambitions? What makes them tick? By using dialogue to reveal these things about your characters, you’ll give them greater depth and make them more relatable to your readers.
It Furthers The Plot
As mentioned earlier, one of the most important things for great dialogue is that it furthers the plot or reveals something important about your characters. Every line of dialogue should serve a purpose; otherwise, cut it! This can be difficult, especially if you’re attached to a particular line or exchange, but remember that less is usually more when it comes to dialogue. In general, shorter exchanges are better than long ones because they’re easier for readers to follow. If you find yourself getting carried away, just ask yourself if what’s being said is really necessary.
These are just a few tips to help you get started writing a good story. Of course, there’s no single “right” way to write a book—it’s all about finding what works best for you as an individual writer. So don’t be afraid to experiment and find what works best for YOU! With a little bit of effort and imagination, you will write something amazing in no time at all.
If you’re looking for more advice on writing a good story, or if you need help with the publishing process, don’t hesitate to contact me. I would be more than happy to offer my services and help you get your book published.
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