Telling a good story is hard. Sure, a skilled writer makes it look easy, but there are so many writing mistakes a person can make without even noticing. There’s the tired writing clichés you might use out of instinct. You have your old predictable storytelling devices you might fall back on. There’s even boring character archetypes we all use even though they’ve been done to death. When it comes down to it, creating original fiction is damn hard. But don’t worry, we have some tips to help keep your work fresh and original. Let’s get to it!
5. Don’t Be Predictable
You know what really kills the reader’s interest in a story? Predictability. If they can easily figure out what’s going on and what’ll happen later on in the story, what’s the point of them reading it? Using tired story tropes and plot elements you’ve seen elsewhere is a surefire way to make your writing predictable.
If you want to avoid this there is an easy fix: add something unexpected to every scene. Keep the readers on their toes and they’ll get hooked. Come up with a list of various ideas and whatever comes to you first is most likely a cliché you’ve seen before; toss that idea. Go with the original ideas you don’t remember ever seeing in a story before. After all, the whole point of writing is to create something original.
4. Losing Interest In The Story While Writing It
Even if you finish the story, the reader can tell where and when you stopped giving a rat’s ass about it while you were writing it. There’s nothing worse for a reader than making it halfway through an awesome book, only to have the writing take a significant dive in quality. Whether it’s the plot, character development, or just the writing in general, you can’t let the quality slide because you got bored and lost interest while writing.
If the problem is you just stopped caring about the story or its characters, you should think back to why you wanted to write it in the first place. There must have been something that inspired you to want to create the world you’re now giving up on. Think back to those times and focus on what sparked the fire to write the story. Chances are you can find your interest in the story once again. If not, move on to something else. Never cobble together something at the end just to get work out there. Not only will the reader be able to tell, you will always know you gave up and didn’t put out the best work you were capable of.
3. Bad Dialogue
Another thing that kills a reader’s interest in your story is bad dialogue. It’s one thing to have a few clunky parts or unoriginal dialogue in your work, but if all or most of it is bad, your book is most likely going to end up as poo covered lining in a bird-cage somewhere.
If you want to make sure your dialogue is up to snuff, ask somebody to read it and let you know. Also, record yourself reading it out loud. If you run out of breath, it’s too long. If it sounds too wooden or unnatural, tidy it up a bit. Make sure your dialogue is compressed and only expresses what needs to be expressed. And most importantly, make sure it’s how real people speak. No long speeches to each other. No perfect grammar (unless it’s a part of the character’s profile). Your dialogue needs to be natural and flow neatly.
2. Everything Is Too Damn Happy
You know what makes for a boring read? A happy story with happy characters in a happy setting. Especially in the first chapter. You need some sort of drama to hook the reader. Even if you’re writing a wholesome family story that would make the Cleaver family jealous, you still need some dramatic elements.
Drama doesn’t have to be bad things happening necessarily. There are plenty of things that can add drama to a story without being violent or sexual. The important thing is you do something to make the reader want to continue with the story. They need to feel a connection to the world they are submersing themselves in. If all you’re doing is giving them a drama-free world where everything immediately works out for the characters, they won’t be able to relate.
1. No Fear, No Point In Reading
Every good story needs fear to make the characters matter. It can be the fear of death, the fear of failing, or the fear of what will become of them emotionally if they fail. There has to be stakes for the story to matter. There needs to be consequences to the character’s actions. They have to have something to lose for us to care about their journey.
Much like the happy world entry, we can’t relate to someone who is perfect and doesn’t worry about the outcome of anything. Imagine reading a romance story where the protagonist has no fear of losing the person they love (physically or emotionally). They just go through the whole story happily and you know the whole time they will stay together in the end. That story sucks. The same thing goes for any kind of story. If there is no fear of losing something, failing at something, or fear of anything else, there’s nothing there to make you care about the outcome. You need fear in your work.
I hope these quick suggestions help you navigate your story more efficiently. You never want to finish the first draft only to realize the whole thing is a giant cliché and needs rewritten. It’s best to plan out your story ahead of time. Even if it’s just some ideas in your head.
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