How to Write a Story

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Writing can be difficult. Whether it’s the essay that is due for your English class or something that you just want to write for fun, writing is not something that is easy to do. Where do you start? How do you keep it compelling after the first thousand words? And how do you find an ending that will satisfy the reader? These can be challenging obstacles while learning how to write a story, which I have faced many times.

The key to writing is to let the topic come to you. Do not try to write a teenage star-crossed lovers story just because they tend to rack up commercial success. Write it because it speaks to you in a way that it doesn’t to others. Write out of heartbreak or true love. Wait until something moves you and take that opportunity to write it down. Using your past can help to develop characters into people the readers will be able to connect to. If you haven’t experienced it yourself, chances are you won’t know how to accurately portray your characters, which is where my second point comes in.

Research.

It does not matter how much you know about the topic, you could always do some more research. I will admit, research is boring. Most of the time I prefer to write without the aid of Google, but it’s there for a reason. Everything can be improved upon. Writing a murder story? Look up specifics on the murder weapon. Using a gun? Find the specifics. Don’t just call it a gun, go beyond and say it was the newly designed Glock 30 Gen4. You can find anything online, so use that to your advantage.

So maybe you have an idea, something that has inspired you. And maybe you have even done some research. But where do you start? How long can you stare at that blank document on your computer before you go a little crazy?  Sometimes it will just come to you. You will sit down and your fingers will type. And before your eyes words that flow together rhythmically will appear and intertwine into the story you’ve been waiting for. But when that doesn’t happen, when the words just won’t come to you, what do you do?

Free-write.

Free-writing is a simple process: sit down and type. Don’t focus on anything. As thoughts pass through your mind, write them down. Don’t think about them; don’t worry about grammar or spelling; just write. This lets your thoughts flow freely, and if you do this for five minutes, you might be surprised by what you read. You may have two lines that tie together wonderfully, and you may find things that just clash terribly. It will help you sort through your thoughts and it will clear your mind. Do this whenever you are stumped. And if it doesn’t work for you, walk away for an hour or two and then try to free-write again. Trust me; it helps.

Now you’ve got a beginning. The words are flowing and you feel great because you are creating a new story. But what now? How do you keep it exciting? Sometimes you don’t even need to think about it. Sometimes it will come to you; you will think of a climax and the words will just flow out of you. Then there are the times that you come to a halt and just don’t know where to go. Sometimes when you spend too much time focused on one story, you lose sight of the big picture. Take a step back, take a break from the story you are creating. Masterpieces are never created over night, and a story takes time to develop. Step away, let new ideas come to you, and then try to continue writing. You won’t find inspiration while staring at the computer screen. So take a walk, take a nap, take a week long break from your story and get inspired.

When moving onto the ending remember not to rush. A rushed ending is sloppy and will leave the reader dissatisfied. Your climax should be completely resolved before you begin to take your leave. You can literally end a story in any way you want. So play around; try different endings. You may be surprised at what you end up liking. Try a variety of things, and create something that will captivate, move, and satisfy readers.  And remember: fresh eyes can be a tremendous help. So let your friends, family, whoever read your story and listen to their feedback. You may find something you weren’t expecting, and that can create a better story than you had originally imaged.

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