20. Be a Story Teller

Welcome to my blog, Be a Story Teller.

What makes a good story: an exciting film, funny joke, a comedy sketch?

Think about one you know, then think why it was enjoyable – did it make you laugh, cry or feel uplifted? Maybe the John Lewis Christmas advert?

There’s an art to telling the story; introduce characters, build a goal, thwart the plan and then the denouement at the end to give a satisfying conclusion to the reader.

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It’s how you tell the story that counts. It’s knowing what to give away and when. It’s keeping the reader in suspense to make them want to turn the pages and not to put the book down.

When your story flows – it’s probably the most amazing feeling a writer can experience. That gushing feeling where your characters are living the story and you are alive in another world and your fingers can’t tap the keyboard fast enough.
It’s never going to be perfect.
Not the first draft. That’s why it’s called that.

And when it’s finished put it away for a few months. You will return with keen fresh eyes and you will be critical. It means that you can amend, adjust, erase or build upon the first draft which is simply a guide. Go back and revise. Make it sharper and more succinct.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll read your first draft and cringe and you’ll realise that there’s lots more room for improvement. That’s what makes this process so enjoyable. Redrafting is a serious business but also good fun. It allows you to stand back and read it and think how it would be more entertaining. If it’s a comedy – then you would look at timing and probably the punchline with a more critical eye.

Keep it Simple. Don’t complicate your characters’ lives, personalities or plot lines unnecessarily. Write what you mean and mean what you say. Don’t use big words when a small one will do. Don’t elaborate and don’t over-explain. Put all the clues there and let the reader work it out for themselves.
Let them enjoy the story. Nothing more and nothing less. They want to be entertained.

It’s important to read in the genre that you want to write. It’s a good idea to study the way other authors tell their tales. You can often define an author by style and that, as a new author, is what you want to define in your own writing.

You want to be the story teller that speaks in a specific way. The one that pauses before the punchline, the one who adds that penultimate twist or the one who offers an alternative ending to the one the readers suspect.

Find out what type of story teller you want to be.Do you want to write literary fiction or commercial fiction? Practise your skills. Write knowing that more of your work will be discarded than published.

REMEMBER: Don’t over edit. Don’t slim it down, don’t cut things out unnecessarily. Be aware of the rhythm and flow of your prose and be confident of the writer you want to be.

Next Blog Post: Writing and Researching Genre.

Twenty-five Editing Tips 
Editing Tips
Ten tips for writing daily

Janet Pywell

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