Friday, May 17, 2013

It's Alive!! 6 Tips for Breathing Life into Your Story

So you've got a great idea for a story . . . you might even have a great story. It's got a great arc, great characters, and great voice, a beginning that grabs and an end that satisfies. But, does it breathe? Is it alive?

How can you turn this:  

into this.


Well, aside from visiting the Wet Canvas Art Etsy site, and ordering your own origami book, the only other way to make your book come alive is by good writing. Here's a few tips that I've learned, and someday hope to master.

1. Make Sense--Life is full of sights, smells and sounds. There should be at least one sensory experience on each page.

2. Make the Scenery a character--Think about the many different places you've been in your life. Each one feels different, has its own mood. Bring that feeling to your story in through the POV of your characters. Have then interact with the world around them. What do they hear, see, smell, feel?

3.Action--Action and reflection are like peanut butter and pickles. Some people do it, but they just don't belong together! When writing an action scene, make every sentence move the action forward. Make every word count. Omit passive words such as like, felt, saw, heard, look, watch. Include what the character is feeling. Show them what happens, then their reaction to it. Make the reader experience it with your character.

4. Great dialogue--Write dialogue like people talk. Avoid meaningless small talk or exchanges. Use dialogue to pass along important information and/or move the plot forward. Think of TV shows or movies--they don't show entire conversations, just the parts of the conversations that are necessary to move the story along and/or create emotion.

5. Create memorable characters--Your readers are real people, and can smell a fake from a mile away. Take time to develop your characters, get to know them. Use character cards to keep traits and quirks straight. The better you get to know your characters, the more you'll find they will come alive, and even begin to write their own story. The story, no matter how good the plot, is ultimately about people. Make your reader care about your characters by making them real, fallible, but set on a task or goal. Give your readers someone, and something, to cheer for.

6.  And arguably the most important: Show, don't tell--Rather than making a statement about someone (Mr. Dunken was a cranky old man), show that he is a cranky old man by letting his yell at a neighbor for having the music too loud, or grimacing as yet another child's ball flies over his fence. You get the idea. Pretend your book is a silent movie--what would your cranky old man do that would show us he is a cranky old man?

Use these tips and watch your stories come alive!

(This are so cool! Aren't they?)

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