by Cátia Isabel Silva
Improvement. That’s an amazing word and fundamental for all of us who want to continuously get better at our jobs. As I already said in previous posts, there is plenty of competition in the writing field, so, if you want to write for life, you must be good at it.
You might read a whole lot and that certainly helps you in becoming a better writer, but even then, there are some points or specifics regarding your work that seem to lack that special something, right? There always is. I leave you here with some tips on how to improve your stories, your books, or, wherever you’d like to write.
1. Make them cry but also make them laugh
No matter how sad your story is, your readers will be delighted with some giggles somewhere in it. A safe way to do it is by creating a rather funny character, even among the most horrifying tragedy, he or she will have something fun to say, or even do. Your story will be all better for it, and much more interesting, believe me.
The same should happen in the opposite direction. You can be writing a fun story, but come on, nobody likes a full-time clown. So, some serious moments might prove useful.
2. Be logical
You may write about a completely crazy fantasy world, where nothing seems real, however, you should be coherent. Even within craziness, you need some logic. If everything is random and non-logical, people will lose interest.
So, you must decide for some rules when you’re creating your fantasy world, no matter how crazy they are, all that matters is that they are applied from the very first page to the last.
The classical structure of a novel or short-story is a character who needs to, somehow, solve some conflict in order to achieve some goal. You should always keep this in mind!
Now, of course you can fight the classical structure, but, you should be careful and have a purpose for it yourself, such as, getting a specific reaction or surprising your audience in some clever way. However, also keep in mind that usually, the further you move away from that classical structure, the smaller your audience will be.
4. Run from stereotypes
There are many successful stories about stereotyped characters, they usually intend to criticize some class or type of person. You could go there, if you wanted to, but remember, the stories who keep people talking about them, aren’t usually like this.
They have unique characters, deep thoughts and actions. They give their readers something to think about, analyze and interpret, almost all on their own with subtle clues, actions and dialogue within the storyline. Let your readers make up their own mind about a character.
5. Your reader is the most important one
This builds on the conclusion from the previous point. Do not treat your readers as if they don’t know anything. They are important and you want them to be interested in your story, right? So, let them have an opinion, don’t tell them everything, make them think, lead them to take their own conclusions.
6. Paper and pencil is the best way to start out
You might never think about it, but when you sit at your computer you’re being limited by it. Pick up a paper and a pencil and do whatever you want. You can write words, you can draw, make a map, anything you want. And don’t worry, it’s just for you, nobody will see it, so it doesn’t really matter if your cow ends up looking like an ostrich.
7. Take a walk
Writing is a solitary job, usually sitting down, closed off in a room by yourself. But the creativity and fun stories are out there, amongst LIFE. Get out! See people, talk to them, observe them, think about them and their issues. You’ll see your characters become more interesting and your writing improving.
8. You have 5 senses
And so do your readers… You should never forget about that, use it in your favor. When writing your amazing descriptions remember all of them and try incorporate them into your writing. Talking about the smell, the feeling of the wind against the skin, the sound of the forest will make your scene that much more interesting and detail-rich.
9. Nobody is definitively good or evil
If you want your character to be interesting and catch the reader’s attention, you must humanize it. The bad guy could have some positive characteristics and the hero can be a real jerk sometimes. A hero too good tends to become boring and a villain too bad is unrealistic (they can’t be all crazy, all the time, can they?)
Guest post contributed by by Cátia Isabel Silva. Catia is a Portugal native who works in the school system. In 2010, she wrote New World as her debut novel.