How to Write A Story

How to Write A Story

How to write a story-What is a story?

Do you want to know how to write a story that captivates your readers and leaves them with the desire for more? First things first; A story is defined as a narrative which can either be true or fictitious in verse or prose written with the aim to arouse interest, muse readers or instruct them.

It is a given fact that writing is not an easy task and writing an impressive story is even harder. However, this does not mean you cannot write one. All you need is practice and a clear understanding of what is expected from you. To help you become a better writer, consider the following guidelines.

Tips on how to write a story

Set a Plot

It is important for you to set a plot first. This is what the action, storyline is. It also refers to the manner in which you set a situation and where the turning point of your story is as well as what characters do when the story comes to an end. There are a couple of elements you need to understand in order to come up with an excellent plot and these include:

  • “Hook” or explosion-A stirring, gripping or thrilling problem or event with the capability of grabbing the attention of your reader.
  • Conflict-Your character versus something else whether internal or external
  • Exposition-Background information that is necessary to see the character in context
  • Complication-Problems that arise and keep the characters from achieving intended goals
  • Transition-Symbol, image or dialogue joining scenes or paragraphs
  • Flashback-Recalling something that took place before the story begins
  • Climax-The action that leads to the peak of the story
  • Falling action-Action release after the story reaches the climax
  • Resolution-When external or internal conflict is resolved

The first draft

Start by writing the first draft and spend as little time as possible on it. If it is a short story, attempt to write in just one sitting. If it is a novel, attempt to complete in within one season which equates to 3 months.

You should not fret much about outlining or plotting beforehand. All this can be done once certain you have a suitable story to share. The first draft is known as the discovery process.

Develop a suitable protagonist

Stories are always about protagonists as such, if you lack a good protagonist, then your story will not be a good one. The most important aspect regarding a protagonist is that they make decisions. As you think of your protagonist, there are a couple of things you need to consider:

  • First, make sure your protagonist is clear about what they want. It should be something unique and interesting enough to keep the reader interested in discovering more.
  • At the start of the story, determine a morally significant action that your protagonist has taken towards accomplishing their set goal. It is important for your protagonist to make a conscious decision whether it is bad or good as it acts as the drive for the story.
  • Consider unexpected consequences that are related to your protagonist’s goals-it is advisable to ramp your story with energy.
  • What details such as tone, dialog and setting influence your story?

Create drama and suspense

In order to create suspense in your story, set up a question that is dramatic. This could be anything like: “Is she going to make it” or “Will she meet the man of her dreams”? Through placing the position of your protagonist in doubt, you make it possible for the reader to question what will happen next.

In order to achieve this, restrict the amount of information you divulge. Among the most important tips on how to write a story is remembering that drama is easily destroyed by over sharing.

The sample story Portraits of Madame Skalla found at here is a good example of a well written story. By reading the sample, you will be in a position to know how to write a story of your own.

Show rather than tell the story

Taking into account the tip on creating drama and suspense, then you need to show rather than tell the story. Whenever something interesting happens in the story that leads to a change in the fate of your protagonist, you should not tell your readers about it. Readers have the right to see the best aspects of your story playing out. Therefore, paint the picture well for them and let them see the story unfold.

Write excellent dialogue

In order to achieve great dialogue, you need two things:

  • Deep knowledge of your characters
  • Plenty of rewriting

Each character in your story must have a voice that is unique. It is important to ensure your characters do not sound the same. While writing speaker tags use “she said” or “he said”. Using speaker tags such as “she announced”, “he exclaimed” and “he vehemently spoke” are not just unnecessary but distracting. Occasionally though, you can use, “he asked”.

Death should be part of your story

Take time to think of the last couple of stories you have read. Did a character die in any of them? You should include death in your story for the simple reason it makes a good story. Some of the best stories involve death. The Hunger Games, Harry Porter, The Lord of the Rings and Charlotte’s Web among others are good examples of stories where some of the main characters died.

The theme of death is a universal one since everyone who lives at one time, must die. Therefore, you should tap into the theme to make your story more captivating and interesting.

You can read the sample story Little Brother here to further enhance your skills on how to write a story.

Edit your story

Part of knowing how to write a story that is captivating lies in editing like a professional. Majority of expert writers end up writing 3 drafts or more. The first draft should be more like an outline while the second draft outlines the story in-depth. Also, the first draft offers you the opportunity to further explore your story and also figure what it is all about.

You should not purpose to polish the second draft instead, use it to make any necessary structural changes, to clarify your plot and the characters in the story. You can also use it as the source for your major ideas regarding the rest of the story.

You can use the third draft to carry out deep polishing. This is supposed to be the exciting part as the story takes shape completely and you are already aware of what your readers will receive.

Understand writing rules and break them

In order to know how to write a story that is compelling, you must decide to either be a good writer or a great writer. Good writers understand rules and they follow them to the letter. Great writers on the other hand understand rules and they break them.

However, you should remember they never break these rules arbitrarily. Rather, they break the rules because they are aware that for their story to have the desired effect, it requires new rules. While it is important to respect rules, you should remember you do not serve rules. You should only serve your story.

Beat writer’s block

As you begin to write your story, you will experience writer’s block. When you get stuck, you should not attempt to write well or be perfect, simply, write. There are instances when you have to take pressure off and simply write in order to deliver impressive and compelling stories.

Choose your point of view

This refers to the view in which you narrate your story. It can either be in first person, second person or in third person. It is important for you as a writer to establish who will tell the story and the amount of information to avail to the narrator. The narrator of your tory can be subjectively involved in the action or they could only report action objectively.

  • First person-Here, you will tell the story from the view of “I”. Also, the narrator can be your main character (protagonist) or a secondary character that tells the story revolving around your protagonist. You should consider using first person as it is the easiest when you begin to know how to write a story. Example: I watched my father as a tear rolled down his cheek. Never before had I seen him cry. While he brushed the tears off his cheek, I looked away.
  • Second person-In this case, you will be the one telling the story to the reader who is a participant in the unfolding action. Example: You cried loudly in your sleep. You were having a nightmare again.
  • Third person-In this case, you will tell the story by using “she”, “it” or “he”. Third person is often limited since the story is told from the viewpoint of one character. Example: He walked briskly to the yellow cab without looking back.

Here is another sample of a story you can read: to sharpen your writing skills.

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