Story Writing Tips

Tips on Writing an Enticing Story

by Terri Forehand

There are thousands of story writing tips, but don’t let them entrap you until you want to quit. Think of writing rules as guidelines written in stone… but only for a while. For now, they will keep you focused so that you can write a properly structured story that is clear and intriguing.

Yes, learn the story writing tips, but after you’ve sold to a few small markets and a couple of bigger ones, branch out and experiment with style. See what works best for you.

Outlines

Most creative writers use some form of outlining to capture the essence and form a plot before they start writing. A formal outline offers beginners crucial structure that makes the story flow. If that idea scares the bee-gees out of you, you aren’t alone, but give it a whirl. It might surprise you. Although some writers fear it will starve their creativity, facts point in the opposite direction. It’s always a good idea to use a road map on a trip.

Whether you do it mentally or by analysis, you must know where the story is going. It will save rewrites and editing in the end. Outline by scenes and fill in the details as you go.

Research

Research is essential. It might broadly define insanity, responsibility, or foster care, or it may be so detailed that it includes extensive history of an area, government operation, or clinical trials for a new cancer treatment. Invest research time in your story/article to add realism and convincing arguments.

Verbiage

Verbiage is the fancy word for writing tight. Fall out of love with your words. Learn to brutally delete favorite phrases and anything that doesn’t move the story forward. Store those deleted phrases and use them another time. Most writers can delete 500 words out of 2,500. Slash unneeded adjectives and adverbs that end in –ly. Use descriptive adjectives and active verbs that make a statement. Anything that survives the cut will be solid meat.

Setting

Another story writing tip: use settings to your advantage. Spoon-feed the reader atmosphere, time, and place, but don’t dwell on it. Engage the reader by using imagery. Easy. Just mix one or more of the five senses in combination with scenery. Example: The smell of salt in the air brought pangs of homesickness for her seaside home.

Show, Don’t Tell

All stories have some “telling” but hold off on the narration by “showing” scenes. There are several ways to do this. Dialogue and imagery are two methods that work well. For example, instead of saying, “Her hair was bleached,” show it with dialogue: “I see you bleached your hair. I love it.” See? The reader can fully imagine the scene better because their imagination was involved in the process. Let your reader think and feel independently by drawing on his/her personality to make the story real. Above all, never narrate emotions. If your character is angry, don’t tell it – show it. They can stomp, kick a hole in the wall, or smash a glass. Let your reader experience the events as they might happen in real life.

What do you think of these tips? Have any of your own? Share them with us in the comments below!

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