Since birth, we were all given a gift of telling. We start crying to convey the feel of hunger. Then, we talk to fulfill the need of communication. We describe what we know and what we want others to know. We even use sign language to express ourselves. It’s inevitable that everyone has a knack for passing a story from one person to the next. Yet, not all of us get the hang of making it striking and desirable.
That’s just telling only. The act of putting your thoughts into written language is the REAL pain in the neck. You can always turn the leaf, though. All you need to know is HOW.
“But I’m a normal human being. I’m not J.K Rowling or anything,” you asked?
Yeah, babe! I know exactly what you think. I went there. As long as you’re willing to deliver a story that goes into readers’ heart, the rest is history. Anyway, let’s get you back on the race. Here are my 11 steps that can turn you into a decent story writer.
P.S. The following methods apply to all genres of decent novel-writing.
1. Practice, practice, practice
Ever wondered how J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, and Nicholas Sparks create those masterpieces we’d always remember? They practice.
One of J.K. Rowling’s most famous quotes is:
Sometimes you have to get your writing done in spare moments here and there.
This is essential for writing a book. It’s easy for us to picture successful writers spending all day penning flawless paragraphs, but everybody has to start somewhere. For Rowling, that somewhere included full-time work and finding stolen pockets of time to write. Much as it appeals to have six months free to complete your book, odds are you’re going to have to fit it into your everyday life.
Be ruthless about protecting writing days, i.e., do not cave in to endless requests to have “essential” and “long overdue” meetings on those days. The funny thing is that, although writing has been my actual job for several years now, I still seem to have to fight for time in which to do it. Some people do not seem to grasp that I still have to sit down in peace and write the books, apparently believing that they pop up like mushrooms without my connivance. I must therefore guard the time allotted to writing as a Hungarian Horntail guards its firstborn egg.
– J.K. Rowling
2. Create an outstanding outline
Before you start on your novel, it’s good to have a general idea of the plot. Through outlining your book, you’d do yourself a big favor. Clashing scenes can be most easily spotted in this stage. The storyline will flow along smoothly in rhythm.
You don’t necessarily provide every detail in this first outline. It’s just an outline after all. Don’t worry too much about it. Writing is where your creative brain will be at work.
I always have a basic plot outline, but I like to leave some things to be decided while I write.
– J.K. Rowling
3. Bring your characters to life
Making up characters that are believable is not an easy task. Oftentimes, your characters might be too abstract for the readers to have faith in. In those times, base your characters on someone you know in real life. Give them your dad’s personality, your mom’s physical traits, your boyfriend’s name for example. By doing this, you’ll be able to form a clear image of who you’re writing about in your head.
One thing to keep in mind: be sure to ask for permissions first. It ain’t pretty to have someone rebel on your novel just because they’re in there unnoticed.
4. Set up a location
A novel isn’t complete without a scene. Think about where your characters would live. A small town in the countryside? In French having romantic dinner in candle lights every single night? In Mercury with a bunch of aliens? What is it like living there? Will that place affect the events later in your book?
Decide them firsthand. Open your mind to every possibility. If your story is not fantasy/sci-fi, consider using real town names and cities (but be sure to do your research on the town first).
5. Open up
If you’re reading this article, chances are you know about writer’s block. You might have experienced it once perhaps. If that’s the case, try to open your mind to other artistic activities for a while.
Paint, draw, hang out with friends, do whatever as long as it keeps you from the book. Another good way to clear your mind is taking exercise. If convenient, walk a dog. It’ll give you some bonding time with your pet.
Open up your plans and damn, you’re free.
– Jason Mraz
6. Be inspired
A story writer needs inspiration to grow. A decent story writer needs inspiration to be perfect. Inspired minds will create inspiring novels. Fortunately, inspiration appears in the smallest things in life: music, art, work, poems, even the night sky. Observe the world around you. Potential stories are right there waiting to occur. Don’t let them go by wasted.
Also, remember those dreams you’re having? Bring them to good use. Nothing can’t take place in an excellent novel.
Books are a unique portable magic.
– Stephen King
7. Put yourself into the novel
A story that captivates readers is one they can feel related to. First thing first, you – the author – have to feel related to. What would you think if it were you who was in the novel? If you lived your characters’ live, would you like to change anything? How would you react when bad things happened?
Answering these questions will give you a sense of how real your story feels. You can also get a clue of which emotions your characters should be portraying in the novel. Put yourself in the shoes of your own characters. And just live.
We’re taught from a very young age that reading as much as possible is the pathway to success and fulfillment. Imagine the wisest person you know. Chances are you’re picturing him in a library poring over a stack of books.
While being an avid reader doesn’t ensure success, successful people are almost always avid readers. Especially for us writers, reading is the next important thing after writing.
If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.
– Stephen King
9. Respect children
Children are the most creative creature in the world. They dream of things we may never have heard of. They invent their own words for necessary situations. Those little kids even find out new methods to do daily stuff.
So, if you’re ever stuck for ideas, listen closely to youngsters. Their anecdotes might seem far-fetched at the time. But with some polishing, these will surely be your next inspiration for a brilliant story.
10. Stay on earth
Once you have a remarkable idea, it’s easy to get carried away. When this happens, make sure to read over what you’ve already written. Bugs are everywhere. You may find your ideas already explored in another novel or those that haven’t been used plain boring.
Don’t be disheartened. Persevere. Writing should be an enjoyable activity. Don’t let yourself be over the top or go down the road. If you feel content with what you’re working with, you’re good to go.
11. Polish the piece
Here comes the great part when you’ve finished all the writing struggles.
It doesn’t sound as stimulating as it seems, huh?
But think about it, before you go out on a date, even if you have put on a fancy dress, it’s always best to second-check your reflection in the mirror. The same goes for writing. A novel could never be a work of art without the touch of a good editor. It will be even better if that editor is actually the one creating the content, namely, yourself.
There! My 11 secret pathways to success as a decent story writer.
A passionate heart can turn into a flame. That same flickering flame can one day become a blistering fire that lights up the sky. You never know what a love for writing would bring. Hope for it.
And when you do find the masterpiece in your heart, tell me. I’ll be waiting by your side.