12 Secrets to Writing Better Stories

What makes a good writer? This question surely comes to your mind the moment you start to consider writing seriously. It can be a career or a hobby, something you do to earn money or just for fun. Anyway, if you want to enjoy the process in full and make writing rewarding, you definitely have to write well.

Many authors agree that the best option is to start writing short stories, which is much easier than writing novels and poems. Novels consist of a complex plot and usually includes a large number of characters and more than one main theme. On the other hand, poetry deals with rhyme and meter. Not everyone is good at it, and so searching for suitable rhyming and arranging words for a set rhythm can be a real pain in the neck.

This article aims to share some ideas about writing better stories. Hopefully, the information will serve as a guide for those who take their first steps as budding authors.

What can help you write better stories?

1. Overcome your fear and start writing.

Being scared is the main obstacle not only to good writing, but writing in general. In fact, it’s naive to expect that the first story you write will become a world famous masterpiece. Still, as soon as you learn to cope with your fear, you are sure to get more resources and inspiration with which to create a good writing piece. Only practice makes perfect. For this reason, write as much as you can. Don’t let possible failures prevent you from writing or block your potential.

2. Make a sensational beginning for the story.

Classical writing is a bit outdated now. Today’s reader is ready for an adventure with the very first lines. Therefore, be bold when selecting a title for the story. Compose the first paragraph to create intrigue immediately. Think of some unusual setting or extraordinary circumstances. Believe that readers will appreciate such an involved approach. They will eagerly read the story to learn what happens in the end.

3. Choose an entertaining tone.

An entertaining tone serves as a winning formula for any author. Genres vary greatly, but a light and entertaining tone is the best to win an audience. Let your reader feel excited. Reject a monotonous and unemotional, long-winded narration.

4. The beginning and the ending of a story has to have a sense of unity and completeness.

Create a link between the first and the final part with the use of a particular detail, phrase, or object. “If I have a pistol in my first chapter, a pistol ends the book,” says Ann Rule. It’s a good thing when the final sentence of the story is somehow connected with something that happened earlier in the story. This will bring the story to a logical ending and finalize the main idea.

5. Make the reader ask “What’s next?”

Build the entire story around one question. It can sound, like “Will they find the hidden proofs?” “Will the main hero win that battle to the death?” “What will all those strange circumstances lead to?” By making the main hero’s destiny uncertain, you create suspense. The reader will wait with anticipation and longing to read the story to the ending.

6. Make an effort to create a protagonist.

There is a hero in every story. According to Victor Frankl, a human being is a deciding being. So, work out the character of your protagonist, which can be best disclosed in some critical circumstanced. Show the way your hero acts and makes decisions. Make the protagonist look real, not fake. Who knows, the image you create may become a model for people to emulate in real life.

7. Don’t underestimate the importance of dialogue.

Select a suitable tone for each character to reflect his or her personality. Take pains to rewrite the dialogue over and over again, until it sounds natural and meaningful. Use simple words, like “she said” or “he asked”. Complicated and emotional verbs, such as “announce” and “exclaim” are unnecessary. The simpler the language of the story is, the easier your reader will go through it.

8. Learn from famous writers.

Read their success stories. Find out what helped them to become successful and well-known. For example, the first editor for Ernest Hemingway recommended that he do the following: “Use short sentences. Use short first paragraphs. Use vigorous English. Be positive, not negative.” Years later, the famous writer said, those were “the best rules I ever learned for the business of writing.”

Choose writers you admire to model your own writing style after. Such practice is simple, though effective.

9. Interpret some well-known story in your own way.

Imagine you were asked to present your own vision of some famous story. Offer quite a different run of events. It’s a good exercise. You don’t have to invent the story from scratch, but work with a ready-made plot. Those who want to write good stories should definitely try this method. It helps to develop creative thinking, as well as the ability to present the story in other ways by changing the ending and main idea.

10. Be innovative with the writing style.

According to Joe Busting, if you want to be a great writer, get ready to break the rules. However, before you do that, make sure you know all of them perfectly well so that you know what you are violating or even ignoring. Use various writing styles and sentence structure. Shift from one story-telling manner to another one. If you feel that your work needs new rules, feel free to create them. After all, it’s your story, and you are the one to decide how to present it.

Readers tend to appreciate literary innovation. So, a new approach to writing is likely to increase the number of your readers.

11. Rewrite and revise.

Rewriting and revising are inevitable stages in good writing. Create more than one draft. With the first one, you will see what the story is about. It’s better not to share that with anyone. The second draft serves for providing the major structural changes of the plot. Clean up the plot and the characters of the story. Provide a final editing for the writing with the third draft. With each new draft, the story will get increasingly better.

12. Share your writing.

Every fledgling author feels hesitant and has doubts on whether or not to show his work to others, but writing in obscurity is not the best strategy. Paul Verlaine said that each author has his own audience. So, there definitely are people, who will like your stories. Moreover, when you know that someone will read your work, it makes you write the best you can. Show the stories you already have to friends or ask some editor to have a look at them. Try publishing them in some magazine or place them on a website. You can also try entering a writing contest. That is effective for a number of reasons. First, it encourages you to take a risk and make a step forward in your writing career. Second, the deadline won’t let you put the writing aside. Third, such contests motivate young writers to put everything they have into their stories.

Regardless of the tip you choose to try, there’s one thing you definitely have to do. What is that? If you aim to write better stories, write as much as you can. Once you finish a story, immediately begin a new one. Only consistent practice will help you achieve the desirable outcome.