Ten tips for writing a story

1. Keep it simple — at first! Decide what you’re going to write about, and just write it out. Like the crest of the wave tipping over and churning as the wall of water moves forward.


2. Add stressors — without conflict, you might not move the reader to care enough to turn the page. What might happen in your story to make things tricky, all but insurmountable?

3. Deepen the main character — the protagonist might be a cardboard cut-out at this point. Can you make us care about that person, see him or her in our mind, by working out a back story? Then hint at aspects of this, reveal it gradually in your story.

4. Get some empathy going — let your main character win something, have a particular skill or insight, be a success in at least some small thing. Unless your reader can feel positive about your main character, then it might be more difficult for the reader to relate.

5. Surprise! — what might happen that the reader is not expecting?

6. Setup for the Surprise — to make it seem like less of a coincidence or convenient alignment of planets, build in a few details that make the Surprise more believable, without revealing too much about what will happen. “The weather forecast gave a ten per cent chance of a tornado that day, but the air was calm at dawn when they were eating their breakfast on the deck in the sunshine.”

7. Add yet more depth to the characters — none of the characters are all bad, or all good. Provide enough detail that we can believe that is a real person.

8. Stop writing — take time to re-read over and over, keep thinking about where you want the reader to be at the end of your piece. What feeling, mood, or new knowledge might that reader have because of your piece?

9. Tuck the piece away for a little while, come back later with fresh ideas and energy. Sometimes the best realizations about what will happen next come to mind when you are doing something physical, or just day dreaming.

10. Test your fledgling story on a willing reader. There are ideas for how to find that person in the post “Desperate for a Reader“.

Never give up! Write it up.


— Manna is Everywhere! –

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