by Cátia Isabel Silva
What is lacking in my story? – The more you write, the more you’ll be asking yourself this question, and if you aren’t careful, it probably means that you’re not getting any improvement.
It’s really important for any professional try getting better at what it is they do, to improve themselves and the quality of their work. As a writer, you sometimes need to stop and really try to analyze your work and find some points where definitely have room to improvement.
Sure, this is not an easy task, but I can give you some tips that might help you through it.
1. Read your favorite authors.
Read your favorite books and authors again, and again, and try to find out what made those works some of your favorite. What made you want to read it in first place? What kept you reading that particular piece? What’s your favorite part? Why? Why does that story seem so good, at least for the reader, and maybe even the author in you?
It’s important for you to understand what makes a good first chapter, a good conflict and how the ideas they consist of, were organized. Is that something that would work for you? The style, the rhythm… the more information you have, the more you can improve your own work.
2. Organize and plan.
Yes, you are probably thinking that what you really like to do is write. Just sit and start writing… and that’s important, but often enough, a good story needs a bit of planning.
You need to organize your ideas and there are plenty of options to do it. Use them. Try different mixes of organization and work methods until you decide which ones are the best for you.
Organize your ideas, plan what will happen, when, how… Are you writing a mystery novel? Do you want the readers to have some hints that might make them curious? Every single detail is important and the more carefully planned it is, the better prepared you’ll be when you really do start writing.
3. Read it out loud.
Sometimes, what seems to work really well inside your head, turns out to be a bad idea on paper, and the best way to see if that is the case is to listen what is written. You’ll be easily aware of the narrative rhythm, the structure of the sentences, the way ideas are connected…
It can be a great experience and very insightful to ask someone else to read it out loud for you.
4. Focus on the main character.
The main character is fundamental in any story. You must take some time to analyze it and improve it wherever or whenever possible. It should be remarkable and deep, good and evil at different times, and ideally, you want your readers to be able to identify with the character regarding several situations or experiences.
The main character should be an intense and active person, that either has something to win or lose. It should be someone your readers would actively care about, so they will read the story until the end in order to find out what happens to this character.
But be careful with the enthusiastic descriptions… There are other ways to show how your character looks like, the kind of person he or she is and the things they like, without describing them exhaustively. You can show or shine a light on all of these things through your character’s words and actions, the way in which he or she reacts to some situations, and how he or she talks to or approaches people…
This is a subtle way of giving people some knowledge about your character and, believe me, it is highly effective and way more powerful and interesting method of doing so.
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.