Millionaire authors like George R. R. Martin and J. K. Rowling have inspired a new generation of people to consider professional writing as an actual career option. Even Carrie Bradshaw, the lead character of the romantic sitcom – Sex and the City – has managed to influence young minds with the perks and freedom of being a story teller. However, writing a story that can truly move the reader and make you grow as a writer is nothing short of a Herculean feat, especially if you have no clue where to begin your writing adventure. To help you take the first step in the right direction of story writing, here are some writer-friendly tips:
* Spend some time brain storming
The best way to come up with a story that writes itself is to start with a stellar idea. Whether you want to write a short story of 5,000 or a novella of 20,000 words or directly jump start your writing ambition with an epic novel of 80,000 words or more, what will motivate you to write is a good idea. The idea for a good story may be derived from real life experiences or from something you read or saw in a movie. Most established authors claim that the success of their works have been realised due to their well-nurtured reading habits or exposure to mass media. Exchange ideas with as many people as you can and allow them to simmer within before zeroing in on the final idea for your story.
* Decide the genre and the target group
Once you have selected an idea to work on, half the battle is won! If you are an avid reader and are clear about the choice of genre that you enjoy reading the most, then your genre selection may already have been done. Most writers choose to write their stories in a genre they like to read most. However, if you like reading fantasy fiction, it doesn’t mean that your first story must also be an epic saga. Remember, simplicity and adherence to basics of your chosen genre can make your story writing exercise a true success.
While looking at the genre, do think carefully about your core target audience. Who would find the story appealing? Old people? Young adults? Teenagers? City dwellers? The more affluent and the well-educated? Of course, the story could finally be read by a diverse audience but it would be extremely meaningful to define the core appeal group.
* Create a central character and theme
Every story worth telling must have a central character and a compelling theme. Once you finalised the idea and have chosen your genre, select the protagonist of your story and start building attributes for the leading character. It is important to personify and humanise your central character adequately to make your story believable or likeable. A well-constructed central character also provides an anchor to the story and provides a point of view to the reader.
* Prepare a story skeleton based on genre
Based on your genre, theme and protagonist, you must frame your idea into a story skeleton. To avoid having the writer’s block, it is advisable that you frame the entire story at the beginning itself. How things will begin, what will change, how the plot will thicken and how it will all finally end; you must lay down the foundation at one go. Thenceforth, there will be sufficient time to build in details and nuances into the plot. You can always revisit certain plot elements and change the skeleton itself, if need be.
If necessary, frame the problem that the protagonist is likely to confront and, finally, resolve.
* Introduce and build up the theme
After you have built a framework of the story, work towards writing an engaging introduction. Most people either lose interest or get engaged in a story within the first few pages of reading it. Thus, if the introduction is apt and riveting, the story will manage to hold interest of your target audience. Also, the introduction to your story should try and establish with whom the sympathies of the reader should lie. You may choose to make your central character mean and selfish but, for the reader, there must emerge a genuine and justifiable reason to believe in that character.
* Solidify plot and characters
After the introduction, you can strengthen the plot with complex story details, twists and cliffhangers. If you are writing a short story then plot twists can be reserved for the end as you will have limited time to describe the plot and characters. However, in a novella or novel, you can use cliffhangers in every chapter to keep the reader on the edge. Maintain clarity of idea with clear story elements. The true test of your writing is when you are able to express the thoughts and emotions of your characters by obvious actions.
Every story that begins and grows must also end; every good story should have a beginning, middle and an end. Writing a gripping climax for your story can be quite challenging if you have no clue how you want the story to end. Your story skeleton can help you adhere to your original plot but over the period of constructing your tale, you may develop better ideas and may want to end the story differently. As a writer, you have two choices while writing your climax – you can either write what you like or what you think your reader will like. Many successful authors have claimed that the most rewarding climaxes have been those where they wrote what they truly wanted, unmindful of how the readers would react to it.
After the climax, you could try and tie the loose ends of your story. The hope of a happily ever after or triumph of good over evil is actually realised in the aftermath of the climax i.e. the anticlimax. A good story rarely leaves the key questions unanswered and the anticlimax is the place to finally complete the journey of your central character.
* Don’t forget the message
Lastly, as a good writer, you must remember to give your reader a message through your story. By the end of the story, the protagonist must have undergone some transformation or the situation and context of the tale must have changed. After all, why else would you want to tell a story if not to give the world a message?
Anyone can write. But, as is true with any vocation, do not forget one final point – to become really proficient in writing, a very important ingredient is practice. Yes, there are people who can sit down to write and the words will come pouring out. But for others, practicing writing would be a necessary step. Write small stories, essays or just descriptive pieces, revise them, re-write them. Over a period of time, you will find that writing is something that really exhilarates you.
Visual Courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/perspective/