Writing a great story involves using your creativity and expression while also focusing on cohesion and structure. A story needs to flow seamlessly from one chapter to the next, keeping the reader’s attention throughout.
Whether you’re writing a novel or a short story, it’s important to take your time. Crafting the perfect story takes time, patience, and dedication, but it’s completely possible, especially if you’re passionate about writing.
Here are some helpful tips for writing a great story as an aspiring author.
Use the Key Literary Elements
Writing a great story requires the skillful incorporation of key literary elements. There are seven key literary elements – plot, character, setting, narrative (point of view), plot, theme, and voice (tone).
The plot lays the foundations of the story, and the characters add depth, relatability, and nuance to the plot. You must create a setting that your readers can imagine in their heads to feel fully immersed in the storyline.
The narrative shapes the perspective of the story based on the viewpoint of one or more characters. The themes underpin the plot and create aspects of the story that your audience can resonate with and understand on a deeper level.
Finally, voice describes the tone of voice you use in your story and the mood that it sets. Voice enables you to convey emotion and draw your readers in even further.
Write a Gripping Opening
A gripping opening is essential for capturing your reader’s attention immediately and drawing them into your story from the very beginning. It’s key to unlocking your potential for an award-winning novel!
You should begin your story with something emotional or mysterious that makes your audience desperate to find out more. Common and effective openings include those with a chase, argument, or mysterious event.
Consider posing a thought-provoking question that creates mystery and sparks your reader’s curiosity. You can reveal the answer to this question as your story unfolds, weaving it into your narrative.
Aim to engage all of the senses by describing or implying various sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures in the opening paragraphs. You can link these to the overall plot to make your story more cohesive.
Show, Don’t Tell
‘Show, don’t tell’ refers to a fundamental principle in creative writing that encourages authors to use descriptive language and vivid imagery instead of simply stating information. By showing instead of telling, you can evoke emotion in your readers and keep them interested in your plot.
Here are some helpful tips that will make showing and not telling much easier for you as you write your story:
- Explore the senses and describe what your characters can see, smell, hear, taste, and feel
- Demonstrate a character’s emotions through their actions and reactions instead of stating their emotions outright
- Use spoken word (dialogue) to convey a character’s personality, thoughts, and emotions
- Explore your character’s thoughts and feelings through internal monologue
- Convey conflicts between characters or internal conflicts within a character’s head instead of stating the problem
- Use metaphors and similes
- Choose strong action verbs that showcase the emotions or actions more effectively, such as strolled instead of walked, scoffed instead of ate, or chuckled instead of laughed
Surprise Your Readers
A predictable story is boring, and it won’t engage your readers for very long. For high retention rates and positive reception to your story, you need to continually surprise your readers. You need to add unexpected twists and turns that keep them on their toes.
Surprising your readers can intrigue them to unravel more of your plot and learn more about your characters. It’s a key element of any great story and it’s why certain authors are so popular – because they know how to weave surprises into their storylines in a way that is natural and authentic.
Choose Your Dialogue Carefully
Dialogue is a powerful tool every writer needs to use to reveal more about the plot and further develop their characters. It shows your character’s personality, emotions, and relationships.
Make sure your dialogue sounds natural and resembles a real conversation. You don’t need to add filler words like real humans do but use language that the everyday person would in their conversations. You can adapt the dialogue for different characters based on the personalities you’ve given each.
You can use the ‘show, don’t tell’ technique when writing dialogue into your story to take it one step further. Also, vary the tags that you use to avoid monotony. For example, use ‘said’ sparingly and included more descriptive tags, such as ‘whispered’ or ‘chuckled’.