What does it take to write a good story?

I have recently been pondering the question of what it takes to write well. Almost anyone can write, but what does it take to be able to write a compelling, thought provoking story?

A few months ago I went to a Novel Writing Workshop in order to get some feedback and criticism on the Children's Novel that I have been working on. From the workshop leader, Jill Blee, I was able to gain some useful insights from a well-published author.

  1. Busy Life? Take some time everyday to write or think about writing. Yes, you may have children, a full time job etc., but it is vital that you put aside some time to develop your story. For me personally this is during the car drive to and from work everyday. I find that I enjoy being stuck in peak hour traffic as it gives me more time to think about my characters. Why not use the time on the way home from the school run, grocery shopping or your evening walk to imagine youself away into your story? You need to feel connected to your story if your readers are to feel connected to your story.
  2. Write everyday. This can be anything from a couple of sentences a day, to a few hundred words of you story. Remember, if you don't use it, you lose it. Your writing will improve the more you write.
  3. Get to know your characters. I have mentioned this before in previous blog posts. It is extremely important that you know every minute detail off even the most minor of your characters. You don't have to convey this information to your readers, but if your story is to be plausible you need to know all the nitty-gritty details.
  4. Read your story out loud. You will be surprised by just how many mistakes you pick up when you are reading out loud. My weak point in my writing tends to be my dialogue, so I tend to talk out a scene to myself before I even put pen to paper. I use my drive home from work to do this, but when I was younger I used to talk it out to my little brother. Whatever works for you. Embarrasing, yet effective!
  5. Read, read, read. I have left the most important point till last. Do not write a fantasy fiction novel if you do not enjoy reading fantasy fiction novels. Readers can pick out a fake a mile off. Read widely, and most importantly, read a range of books from the genre you are writing for. I cannot tell you the number of children's stories I have read of late...

I may not be the greatest writer out there - goodness knows I'm not classically trained - but I am going to try my hardest to ensure that I am the best possible writer that I can be.


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