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Basic tips 'n' tricks to story writing

zalex

New member
#1
It is Zalex here and I am making a tips guide to better help you write your novel.



Now everyone loves a good story, but making one is not as easy as just having a good idea. There are some basic techniques and tricks that will help you with your story writing.



1. Theme


A good thing to have when you are creating a novel is a theme. An op protagonist with a poor attitude, dragons on a rampage, falling in love with the high school queen while being an otaku; whatever the theme it is best to make it the primary focus of the story. It is your starting point and your motivation moving forward with your story. And remember a theme can be anything and there are themes for everyone. As long as you stick to your theme then you will always have a base to write your story off of.


2. Act/Arc mapping


One of the most basic things one can do is make a road map of their story. This is done by listing acts and arcs.

  1. Acts are large sections of the story that pertains to a character (normally the mc) undergoing a large time spanning event. Such as the time the protagonist serves in boot camp after joining the army or the hero’s journey to slay the dragon. Yes, a whole story can be a single act (those are normally short stories), but there is no maximum number of acts. (but most novels keep to 4-8 acts to a volume to keep book sizes down.)
  2. Arcs are smaller events of a story that fills in an act. To go with the military example above; first day drills, second-day drills, first-weekend nightlife, two-week squad practice, etc...; can all be considered arcs, or individual events, that pertain to a single act of the mc being in boot camp. Each arc can span single or multiple chapters as well.
The creation of acts/arcs do not have to be done at the very beginning of creating your novel, but as you progress with your writting, it is a good idea to make your map to keep track of your act/arc to better understand where you have been with the story and where you can go.


3. Notes


Notes and idea reminders are key to stories. People have a tendency to forget things and having a hard/digital copy of those thoughts are important. Notes can range from a character you would like to add to the novel, an event that you would not normally add to the story. Or even a change to what you already have. Making and keeping these notes, even after they become irrelevant, is important to any writer.


4. Census


A story is nothing without its characters. So make a list of who is in your novel. Add some notes to the name, or even a description of what they are and will do in the story. Someday you might find yourself in a circumstance that you need a character in ch200 for a particular event but have no filler, then you check and see some background character you made in chapter 30 fits the bill.


And that is pretty much it for tips ‘n’ tricks I can think of off hand. I hope this guide helps.
 
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#2
Criticisms and my opinions

1. Your usage of theme is not what most writers use.
Most writers use theme as a central...well...theme that can be summarized in a phrase, as a truth they want to show. Like "Revenge is bad." Then the writer will expand and explore why exactly revenge is that.
While your usage of theme is also correct (as in a theme park), for most novels of substance it should be secondary to the meaning mentioned above.

2. Your arcs are pretty undefined for a guide because it essentially just tells you to split your story up. While that is okay, another take on "arcs" is in the Scenes structure used by Dwight Swain, splitting each arc into Scenes and Sequels.
Scenes are split into goal, conflict, disaster. Sequels are split into reaction, dilemma, and decision.
  • Goal is the thing your protagonist is going to do to as a step in the grand scheme. Lets say the grand scheme is to save a princess and our hero is just starting out. His first goal is to find a weapon.
  • Conflict: Oh no, the weaponsmith won't sell him a weapon!
  • The disaster is the change that occurs after the conflict, good or bad. It often blends with the conflict itself. In this case, the weaponsmith again, doesn't give him the weapon. Or maybe the change is good, and he does get the weapon! What is important is that there is change.
  • Reaction: The protagonist is happy he got the weapon and he parades it around. Or maybe he falls into a depression. Here is where most of the emotion lies.
  • Dilemma: Here is when the protagonist winds down and consider what to do. Does he go to the next village? He considers his options.
  • Decisions: And among those options, he chooses one. This decision leads into the Goal of the next Scene.
All this is formulaic and you don't have to follow them exactly, but it works well for an arc structure.

3. I would like to add that notes should be easily accessible, be it a notepad you carry or a document on your phone. Inspiration strikes and memory fails at the worst moments. As you (zalex) said, scrapped notes could rear its head later on or in a new story/subplot.
 

zalex

New member
#3
as stated in the title this is tips, not an actual guide. Please do not misunderstand, I am not trying to teach how to write, just give some helpful pointers.

And I am insulted by what you calling my part about 'theme' as a 'theme park'. I was using the theme in a sense of a subdivision of 'genre(s)'. A point of which to start at and a place to work from if one would get stuck.
 
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#4
A guide could be considered a bunch of tips. For some of your tips, I was building on them so they're not just obvious things (like the arc structure), as well as a few corrections on common terminology.

Second, there's no reason to be insulted by me saying your "theme" is similar to the word in "theme park" in meaning.
The theme I'm talking about is "an idea that recurs in or pervades a work of art or literature." When most writers talk about theme, this is what they mean. Of course, this is only necessary if you're writing something of literary value. If it's just a for-fun novel, a central theme is not necessary.

The theme you're talking about is "a specific and distinctive quality." This definition is not perfect, but it was the closest dictionary definition I could find. Dragons on a Rampage might be a theme in a theme park, as in the idea that the park is built based on. That's just how it is, there's no reason to be offended.

Furthermore, "protagonist with a poor attitude" is a character type, not a theme. Neither is "falling in love with the high school queen while being an otaku." That is just an idea for a novel, a scenario that implies a possible conflict. All themes are ideas, but not all ideas are themes.

This point in my post is trivial because it focuses more on the definition of "theme" rather than how theme applies in writing. I didn't say you were wrong.
 

Yukan

Insert Special Title Here
Staff member
#5
Other tips:

1. Do not start consecutive sentences with the same word, it makes it hard to read. I've seen this everywhere...

2. Accuracy is key: make sure to use the word that really conveys what you want the reader to imagine. Eg. sadness vs despair, they have similar meanings but the depth of feeling is different, so pick the one that represents what you want to say more accurately.

3. If you have trouble creating a character, you could try falling into character archetypes, like the "bad boy" or the "nerd" but give them their own unique spin so as to not make your characters too... predictable.

4. When writing, make your characters dynamic. Do not just tell the story and what happens. Make your characters active instead of passive.

5. The most important tip: Write what you want and not what others want you to.

If anyone else has any tips, please feel free to share! ^__^
 

Yukan

Insert Special Title Here
Staff member
#6
Things I see that are commonly misspelt:

1. Definitely - No, it's not definately or defiantly. The first if a wrong spelling while the second is a completely new word.
2. Follow - for some reason, I keep seeing people spell fallow...
3. Jealous - not jelous
4. Ciao - not chaos???? how did this even happen???
5. Immediately - not immediatly; everyone misses out on that 'e'
 

zalex

New member
#7
Things I see that are commonly misspelt:

1. Definitely - No, it's not definately or defiantly. The first if a wrong spelling while the second is a completely new word.
2. Follow - for some reason, I keep seeing people spell fallow...
3. Jealous - not jelous
4. Ciao - not chaos???? how did this even happen???
5. Immediately - not immediatly; everyone misses out on that 'e'
sometimes it is spell check/auto correct that makes those mistakes, not the people who write it, but that is another thing worth mentioning, double checking your work
 
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