How to tell your story
Any aspiring writer needs to do three things – read extensively, learn the craft of writing, and write. Here is some of the awesome writing advice I have absorbed along the way:
- Create an opening that raises questions immediately and hints at the upcoming conflict.
- Start with an inciting incident, a crisis. Give your character a compelling conflict – internal or external.
- Make your character someone readers will want to be friends with – you want them rooting for her.
- You have to give your character a challenge – a dilemma to overcome. Then you need to stack the odds against her. And keep raising the stakes. What is stopping the character from getting what she wants?
- Give your character flaws. Give them a secret. Remember people lie to themselves. People often act, then think later.
- Submerse your lead character in trouble – at work, with family and friends, in love. You need their world to shatter.
- Ask what does your character want. At the heart of tension is unmet desire.
- A villain often has a goal that is in conflict with your heroine. But they also need to have some redeeming qualities.
- Memorable characters are those with quirks. Make them larger than life.
‘The first draft of anything is shit.’ – Ernest Hemingway
- Your beginning must hook them in, your middle must hold attention, and your ending must satisfy.
- Don’t let the story be predictable. When you are working on what happens next, don’t go with the first thing that comes to mind. Continually wonder what else could happen so you surprise yourself – and the reader.
- Show, don’t tell. Use action, thoughts, feelings, senses. Think visually.
- Use your senses. Readers need to experience the world through all five senses of the characters – sight, smell, sound, taste and touch.
- Work on your dialogue. It’s the best way to reveal character. Use a new paragraph to indicate a new speaker.
- Speed up the pace through dialogue, slow it down through narrative. Don’t write dialogue word for word how it would unfold in real life, leave out the boring bits. Any time body language can take the place of dialogue, let it.
- Give it a time and a place. Make sure the reader can follow how much time has elapsed between scenes. Anchor each scene in a physical space.
- Be clear. If someone needs to read a sentence twice to understand it, rework the sentence.
- Tie up the loose ends. Don’t leave any subplots unresolved.
- Keep them in suspense. Clues work best when readers don’t notice them at the time but remember them later. End a chapter with a cliffhanger or tension so the reader has to turn the page.
- As the climax nears, increase the pace.
- Don’t leave writing your ending until last. You need to know where your story and characters are going.