How To Turn Your Story From Good To Great

By on April 1, 2017
How To Turn Your Story From Good To Great - Writer's Life.org

Writing your book might be one of the hardest things you’ll ever have to do. But what is the point in putting all that time and effort into it if you aren’t willing to do everything you can to make it the very best it can be?

You may think that getting your entire story down on paper is the hardest part of writing your book, but really that’s you just getting started!

Once you go back and begin to redraft your story that’s when the hard work really begins, and where you have an opportunity to really make your story stand out.

So how do you turn a story from good to great?

Use all five senses

It’s so important to use all five senses in our stories to really draw the reader in. Knowing what things smell, taste, sound or feel like as well as what they look like is how a reader can become immersed in the fictional world you have created.

Remember that senses can be used to say things that are unsaid, and doing so can increase dramatic effect. If something sweet tastes bitter to a character, for example, this gives us insight into their state of mind. If they can’t feel the heat on their face despite the sunshine, similarly, this lets the reader know how they are feeling.

Use the senses to create drama, to help readers engage with your characters and to transport them seamlessly into the heart of your story so they feel as though they are right there too.

Create memorable characters

It is easy to turn a character from typical to memorable. Simply make them flawed, freakish or eccentric in some way. A limp, a scar, a funny way of breathing, the way someone dresses or talks, an unsettling tic, extra long fingernails, a weird ritual that they have to do every morning. There are so many ways to add little idiosyncrasies here and there to your characters to make them stand out, but also more relatable too - remember humans are pretty weird after all!

Push the boundaries

This could be your boundaries or the boundaries of writing or even society. Basically, take some risks and go to places you might not feel that comfortable going.

Write sex scenes but don’t make them loving and neat, make them awkward or violent or graphic. If one of your characters is a bit racist, make them so, don’t skirt delicately around the subject. If one of your characters is depressed it’s OK to write about the weird dark thoughts that they have. Your book doesn’t have to be pretty, your book doesn’t have to be safe. If you are willing to push the boundaries and stop censoring yourself you might well come up with some pretty compelling stuff.

Make your readers laugh

If you can make your readers laugh, or even just smile or smirk a little, your novel will improve. You don’t have to write a funny story in order for it to have elements of humour. Even in the most tragic situations, there is comedy to be found after all. Smart, witty characters are lively and engaging so if you can find a way to be funny every now and again your readers will appreciate it.

Make your readers cry

The books that stick out most for me are the ones that have made me cry. Some of them haven’t even been that sad, but still, have moved me in a way to the point where I’m all teary-eyed and filled with wonder. If you can make your readers cry they are emotionally connected with your book, they care - and that’s what writing a great story is all about!

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

About Ty Cohen

One Comment

  1. Kathy

    April 9, 2017 at 4:37 pm

    I like use of all 5 senses to describe a characteristic of my subjects. It will make the person memorable and also give a visual aid to the reader. Thanks for this tip. My character needs more features to make her standout. It means more detail and re-writing, but I’m willing to do that in order to make my story great.

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