A writer must always strive to improve his craft, and this means being able to write better stories. Whether you’re writing short stories or long, meandering novels, there are a few specific things you can do to ensure better output. Here are 5 tips for writing better stories:
1. Prepare references before you start writing
There are writers who can just jump straight into writing a story without missing a beat. If you can do that, then good for you but it will make everything go smoother if you prepare references beforehand; jot down notes and observations on people and things that may be relevant to the story, collect stories from people you meet, and read a whole lot of other stories that you think will help you get in the mood.
2. Pour all of your creativity and wit on the first paragraph
Once you’re ready to jump into writing, you should gather all of your creative juices and make sure you write a very catchy, attention-grabbing first paragraph. It is one of the most important parts of a novel because it’s that part where you need to get a reader intrigued enough to continue reading. You can take your cue from short story writers for this one – start with the unusual, the unexpected, or a conflict.
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In fact, some clever writers start their book with a scene that isn’t directly connected with the main narrative, usually by doing a flash back, a flash forward, or a tangentially-related sub-plot. It doesn’t matter if it reads like the reader has been dropped in the middle of an on-going story as long as it grabs his attention firsthand and convinces him to read further. All the mundane details can be filled in later once you have a captive audience.
3. Build a profile of your main characters
Writing the story itself will be so much easier if you know your characters well. Take the most important characters and try to come up with a profile – everything from age, to illnesses, fears, secrets, even if they won’t figure into the story proper. If you know the characters well, it will be easy to know how they respond to situations or dialogue, and it will avoid random plot holes that occur from authors not being consistent with their characterization.
4. Write meaningful dialogue
Have you ever watched one of those crappy TV shows or movies with bad acting and direction, where characters just stand straight and recite lines to each other? It’s awful, right? The same could happen to your stories if you just write dialogues without showing the readers what the characters are doing while they are talking. Make the readers “see” that the characters lean forward, or avert their eyes, or uncross their legs while talking. For example: “Who is that person behind you?” John asked while throwing furtive glances at the person behind Lisa. “Is he the man who’s going to replace me?”
5. Set a conflict and come up with a resolution before finishing the draft
The Conflict and the Resolution are two of the most important parts of a story, since they serve as skeletal frameworks for the narrative. If you don’t have these, you may end up getting distracted and going off on all sorts of tangents, leading to an unnecessarily long novel and most likely deadlines missed. If you set the Conflict and Resolution beforehand, it will be very easy to follow the path and will also allow you some freedom to change directions without starting over.
Image credit: Caleb Roenigk on flickr and reproduced under Creative Commons 2.0[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://writingtipsoasis.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/hv1.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Hiten Vyas is the Founder and Managing Editor of eBooks India. He is also a prolific eBook writer with over 25 titles to his name.[/author_info] [/author]