In the last writing blog I did, I discussed a lot about plot and keeping the flow of your storyline smooth and eventful. This time around, I’m doing more with the bells and whistles of your story. If we get into the more complex parts of your story, things start to get a little interesting.
There’s more to a story than traveling from point A to point B. You’ve got to make the person reading relate to your character, tell them what kind of world your character is living in, and actually get the project done as clean and as vividly as possible.
Here’s a list of a few things that every story has and that every writer needs to consider. Take a few to scan through it and check out how these elements relate to the story you’ve got going on.
1.Voice. Your character has got to have personality. Like people in real life, every character is different. The voice of a sixteen-year-old, happy-go-lucky girl is going to be different than a disgruntled, sixty-something Vietnam War veteran. If you just sat down to talk to your lovely imaginary friend, what would he or she say? You’ve got to keep this in mind while writing their dialogue and actions. A lot of times I ask myself, “What would this psychopathic killer do in this particular situation?”
And then I’m glad I don’t know.
2.Atmosphere. Where is this story going on? Is it a dystopian world with a corrupt government and plenty of room for adventure? Or is it just a normal, suburban town with a couple of local grocery stores and diners that people easily pass up? Where your story is being told is essential to the plot, and you always have to take into consideration when writing it. Think about your hometown. Whether you think it’s home sweet home or not, where you grew up has influenced you. Just like it’s going to have influenced your character. Work in enough details to not distract from the plot, and you should have a good lot of room to talk on this.
3.Wordplay. This is one that has really gotten me in the past. It makes me want to cringe, reading some of my older stuff because I didn’t put in enough capturing scenes in there. Take a lesson from me- you’ve got to avoid narrative storytelling at all costs. What I mean by this is to not tell the reader what’s going on, but show them what’s going on. Use descriptive words. Descriptive words are your friend.
Phrasing is important, too. You’ve got to make your readers feel like they’re there. Look at this as an example of what not to do:
He told them he was running away.
Hold up, wait a minute. Let’s put a little detail in it. Now let’s back up and see what this phrase could have been if we had used descriptive words and avoided narrative storytelling.
He looked over his shoulder and panted out, “I’m running away.”
There. It doesn’t have to be so complex. Still, with just a few more words, you get a better mental image of what your character is doing. Dialogue is great with this. You can reveal a heck of a lot about your characters with the things that they say and how they say them.
4.Organization. This is the most frustrating part, and often where most writers crash and burn. Organizing things sucks. When it comes to this part of writing a story, everybody’s different. There’s no real right or wrong way to do this, as long as you’re aware of what goes where and it doesn’t end up being a total disaster.
Just to give you an easy example, though, this is how I do it. It usually begins by brainstorming with me. I get in front of the computer and type down the lines and quotes from characters that stick out the most. I keep them equal and separated and just keep adding on to them until there’s enough to organize them into separate chapters. These “chapters” are copy and pasted into different word documents and all kept in a folder. Once I know what’s happening in every chapter, I hit the ground running to fill in all the blanks. This is my personal way of getting things done, and it varies from person to person.
5.Word count. Word count matters if you’re trying to get published. If you’re writing for yourself, it’s no big deal. Most middle grade books are from 30,000-50,000 word. Young adult books vary from 55,000-100,000 and adult books are typically in the 70,000-100,000 range. Picture books are usually never over 1000.
Now that we have a good lot of the details out of the way, it looks pretty simple. Like this blog or comment on it with what you think and follow me if you’re interested in more. Happy writing, everybody!