Recently I’ve been doing some studying on what makes a story good. I’ve been watching some videos off Facebook by MR Hall on The Seven Secrets of Successful Crime Writing here and I’ve also been reading this excellent book that I purchased called Getting Into Character by Brandilyn Collins. You can purchase it here for UK or here for USA. I highly recommend watching the Facebook videos by MR Hall and purchasing the book by Brandilyn Collins as they are both informative and useful. They go into detail with examples and explanations; in my opinion they help writers see what makes a story good.
Whilst I’ve been using these resources I’ve made a few notes which are shown on this help sheet below:
- You must be thoughtful and genuine in what you write.
- Your main character must remain true to their morals, traits and mannerisms.
- All characters of any importance must be personalised so that you know them inside and out to prevent clichéd characters.
- Upon the discovery of a character’s inner values you will find their unique traits and mannerisms which will become the fundamental part of your story.
- There must be one super objective, or desire on the whole for the main character in your story.
- The main character must be set smaller objectives in order to try and obtain the super objective. When doing this they will often come across conflict with nature, themselves or other character’s which will result in believable dialogue, actions and conflict.
- Inject small amounts of back story to reinforce conflict, dialogue and choices that your characters are involved in.
- Your character must engage in conflict within many layers.
- The story must take place in an enclosed world.
- You must engage your readers so that they connect deeply and immediately with your story.
- Dialogue should not be shallow or unbelievable.
- Your characters choices must be true to their personal identity and desire.
- Characters are rounded, you must focus not only on the character’s general passion but also on their fears and growth to make your character come alive and show human nature at its best.
- In dialogue characters do not always say what they mean, character responses can make the reader feel communication which is deeper than words. Writers must include subtext into their stories; as a new writer you may have been failing to do this.
- Each character’s action, facial expression and spoken word should illuminate their inward struggle.
- Always begin with a three act structure (beginning, middle and end) and include at least three dramatic reversals in the progression of your character through this structure.
- The revelation in the story must surprise and astound.
- You must always push your main character beyond their capabilities to achieve the peak of the story.
- The story must be edited using restraint and control to remove superfluous or poorly chosen words to sharpen the focus of a scene and speed up the pace.
- As a writer you must learn how to build up your characters, create atmosphere and move each scene forward.
- You must show sensations and feelings appropriate to the moment for each characters response. These emotions and desires lie within each and every one of us and if you look hard enough they can be found.
I hope that you have found this article useful, please feel free to comment and share.