Suraya Dewing's blog

Writing winning stories

Blog 325                               Writing winning stories

 

Alex Keegan says in his article writing winning stories that writing for competitions is a way to increase your output, and this is true. This is one positive outcome of not winning. Winning is a bonus!

And who of us doesn’t want to win? Yes, we all do!

Storytelling is a country’s backbone

Stories build nations, organisations and families. They shape our national character and reveal the heart of an organisation.

Stories surround us and those stories give our lives meaning.

Over the years, there has been a  lot of conjecture about whether the world will be taken over by machines; some have even suggested that the time will come when Artificial Intelligence runs the world and people will be redundant. This is the stuff of science fiction but there are those who believe that science fiction predicts the future. And there is evidence to support that.

Simplicity is the key to good reading

When writers start out, they frequently try to write in ways that will show off their skill with words. They employ a number of techniques such as unexplained twists at the end, or introduce new features that don’t really add anything to the story. This often leads to complicated story lines and characters who are portrayed in one way but behave in the opposite way.

For example, a writer may describe a character as reserved and then several pages on have him or her jumping about at a party showing off his or her karaoke skills. Reserved? Hmmm, not really.

Less is more

I know, as writers, we have heard this principle many times and in the early days I struggled to understand just what people meant by it. In time,I learnt to look out for long rambling sentences, saying the same in two or more different ways or using a word many times because I have just fallen in love with it.

I have come across several examples of this recently.

The writer of a book I have just finished clearly fell in love with the word ‘uxorious’. Sometimes writers use these words to show the rest of us how much she/he knows and how little we know.

Show Don't Tell

We have new writers joining us at The Story Mint and it is wonderful to see the variety of talent and approaches these writers take to their writing. Our role at The Story Mint is to encourage and guide with helpful feedback that comments on what they did well and how they can add value to what they have written.

Choosing tense and point of view

Before we finally decide a piece of writing is completed, it is important to look at how well the tense and point of view support the story. This applies equally to fiction and non-fiction. Sometimes it helps to experiment and see how each affects the way the story comes across.

Writing is a deliberate act

A writer has a lot to think about when writing a novel. The first thing to consider is how the reader will react to what we write. And the first thing to decide is whether or not what we write will find a reader. A writer without readers is like a horse without limbs…great body but no legs. If a writer has just one reader, all that changes and gives that writer’s work a purpose.

Writing with style

It is always a worthwhile exercise to study the work produced by other writers not just to be entertained but rather to examine how they use words. In fact, reading is now an exercise of studying why someone has used words a certain way and what they are trying to achieve with the way the words sit on the page.

In some ways, the appearances of the words artistically tell the story in the same way a portrait captures someone’s features.

Conflict: the heart of every good story

In her excellent book Story Structure and Architecture, Victoria Lynn Schmidt PhD points out that conflict keeps a story going and a reader engaged. Loosen off the tension arising from conflict and you loosen the thread that ties the reader to the story. So keep it coming, tightening the winch with every turn. Start slow and gradually wind it up until the reader is almost shouting at the character to do something to relieve the tension.

Writing Scenes in a story

With every newsletter we put out we include a list of writing tips. These usually include web sites and information I have picked up from various sources. They are always relevant and interesting but I was beginning to wonder if there was ever an end to the pithy advice people have for writers. Often the hints come from writers themselves who have done the hard yards and know that being a writer is far from glamourous. Alternatively, they come from observers who have studied the techniques of writing. Both points of view are valid.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Suraya Dewing's blog