Saturday, August 16, 2014

My Top Ten Tips for Story Writing

Below you'll find some quotes by me as editor of the Junior Redlitzer Anthology 2014, published in the Redlands City Council's Redlands Magazine as well as my Top Ten Tips for Story Writing. 

"Think of a character, give them a challenge and delve into your imagination for ways to overcome it – you are now well on the way to becoming a junior Redlitzer finalist." 

"What young writers have to keep in mind firstly is that the Redlitzer is a short story competition. There is only so much that can be covered in 1000 words." 

"But we want a complete story from start to finish, not an essay. So make it active more than descriptive, jump straight in."

Angela, a former teacher, says the best way to start is simply put ideas down on paper "no matter how crazy."

"It's when you start firing your imagination that you start to get ideas that are original," she says. "And remember that as a short story it is just a snapshot in life - a very short timeframe."

Photo by Melanie Holtsman

My Top Ten Tips

1. Find inspiration for stories by: reading newspaper features; finding objects on the beach; childhood memories; old diaries; two randomly chosen nouns (like sausage/queen); using story starters (eg. etc...

2. Decide on who will be the main character of your story and keep the secondary characters to an absolute minimum of two or three. Give your character a name, something they love and something they have a fear or loathing of (eg. love of a family pet and... fear of heights.) 

3. Give your main character a problem, which they must solve or overcome - or at least struggle with within the 1000 words. (eg. the beloved family pet is stuck in a tree.... main character must overcome fear of heights to save it.)

4. Brainstorm/mindmap your main character's problem and possible outcomes. What does your character want more than anything? Think up crazy obstacles and solutions. Weird, funny, fantastical are all good.

5. You may plan your story first and then write it, or the other way around. Absolutely NO sub plot in a short story.

6. Keep your story within a short time frame. It is like a snapshot of the life of your character. 

7. Your first sentence is the hook. Jump right into the drama and action. Dialogue is also a good place to start, or thoughts. Introduce the main character's problem as soon as possible. Don't start with description.

8. The middle of your story should show your character trying to overcome their problem/ achieve their goal with obstacles in the way.

9. The resolution of your story may have a twist - short stories often do. Surprise your reader!

10. When editing, think about the tense, the point of view (ie. first person or third person) and grammar. Cut out all the bits that are telling or describing too much. Show your character's emotions through dialogue, thoughts and actions.

The Redlitzer Junior Anthology will be launched at a gala event on Saturday, October 18, 2014 at which the Editor’s Choice Award for the best story will be announced.


DimbutNice said...

Read this one this time on Jacket flap Angela! You just can't beat bullet points for keeping on track. Thanks for this. Useful and timely as always. D x

Angela Sunde. said...

Good old Jacket Flap, Dimity. I made so many new writing friends there.