Like most thing in life everyone has their own way to do things and writing is no different. Some writers work from what I call the “plot triangle”. They start plotting their stories with that plot triangle we all had to learn about in school with the words “exposition, rising action, climax, falling action resolution”, and then they build characters to fit in. That style of writing can be a good way to organize and visualize your ideas, but for me it never really worked as a starting point.
Other writers start from the end and build back towards the beginning. For me, this approach ever led to anything other than a headache. It may work for you, but for me whenever I tried to write like that I always ended up with stale characters and predictable dialogue because I already knew exactly how everything was going to turn out. The style that works for me usually starts with the characters. I sit down and just start writing out my idea. I don’t usually pay much attention to grammar or even punctuation, I just try to get a decent picture of who the characters are, what their mental states might be, and how they talk.
For me characters are one, if not the most, important part of any writing. Some will argue with me on that but think about it: Say you’re watching a movie, the plot has intrigue, action and maybe even a bit romance but all of the characters are boring and predictable clichés. Chances are that you’re not going to get interested in that movie. I think that’s a mistake a lot of film writers are making nowadays. They are spending millions of dollars for big name actors and masses of special effects, but they are neglecting the characters and the story. If you can’t build characters your readers care about, chances are they won’t care about anything that happens to them. Getting your readers interested in following the plot depends on getting them at least slightly invested in the characters.
Another great tip for writing good stories is be weary that whole “write what you know” philosophy. In order to keep your writing interesting you can’t just keep writing characters based on yourself and the people in your life. You and your life and relevant to you and the people who know you. The outside world and your readers don’t know you and if you continuously come up with characters based on things around you, your audience might get bored. When you first start writing it’s easier to stick with what you know but, the thing is, a lot of the times, if you really want to be a great writer you have to get out of your comfort zone and write what you don’t know.
Exercise of the day: Writer’s Tennis
For this exercise you need at least one other person. You are going to start out and write a paragraph or two about anything and then pass it on to your partner. Your partner then writes their own paragraph or two continuing the story. Keep passing it back and forth (email works great for this) until you have a story. Use the information the other person wrote in their paragraphs to move the story along. This one can have some really fun and whacky results!
That’s it from me for the day! Have fun with the exercise and if you have any problems be sure to comment and I’ll see if I can help! Ta-ta for now!