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5 Common Story Problems with Simple Fixes

fictionwritingtips:

Our stories are often plagued with these common story problems, but if we don’t know how to fix them, we’ll never improve our writing. It’s important that you remember you don’t need to scrap your novel if you keep having the same issues over and over again. Hopefully this list will help you pinpoint what’s going on and provide ways for you to improve your novel.

Problem: Unmotivated Characters

If you’re having trouble figuring out where your story should go next, the problem could be with unmotivated characters. Characters aren’t in your novel just so you can push them around every once in a while and make them do things. They need to develop over time and keep your story going in the right direction.

Solution:

Work on your character’s wants, goals, and motivations. You need to figure out what’s driving your character if you want them to do anything. Where do they want to end up? What’s standing in their way? What’s their plan? Who will help them? Think about everything your character will need to do to resolve your novel. Focus on what they want and what motivates their actions and your characters will stop being dull and lifeless.

Problem: Boring First Chapters

A boring first chapter is dangerous because you want to captivate your audience right away. You don’t want to lose readers just because of this, but sometimes it happens.  You should give enough information to keep your readers interested, while also keeping them intrigued enough to figure out what happens next.

Solution:

Putting emotion into your scenes from the beginning will not only help set the tone, but we’ll get an immediate understanding of your world. The best advice I can give is to construct a scene that helps us best understand your character. If they’re on the run, show us that they’re being chased. If they’re sad and lonely, construct a scene that lets us feel their isolation. You don’t necessarily need to open your book with action, but you do need to introduce the conflict. Think about what your character wants and go from there. Think of your first chapter as an introduction to an essay. You don’t go right into the points immediately, but you set us up for something good.

Problem: Plot Holes

Writers worry about forgetting to include important information in their novel that’s necessary to the plot. If you’re discovering that readers often point out plot holes in your story, maybe it’s time to reevaluate how you plan your novel.

Solution:

Pre-planning or prewriting your novel often solves any plot hole problems. If you take the time to write out important scenes so you don’t forget them, your story will become stronger. However, if you’re not someone who likes to do so much planning, you can tackle plot holes during the editing phase. Take notes when you’re editing so that you can catch these plot holes and figure out where you can add necessary information. A plot hole does not always mean your novel needs loads of reworking, but it is something you need to take the time to fill in.

Problem: Poor Pacing

Poor pacing can ruin a novel, but luckily it’s something you can tackle head on before you even start writing your story. Good pacing helps add tension to your novel and helps you make sure there’s enough rising and falling action to keep your story interesting.

Solution:

Planning out your novel ahead of time also helps solve pacing problems. You can create a timeline that helps you keep track and plan out when you want certain things to happen. Read up on story arcs and try to plan out your scenes accordingly. If you’re already done with your novel and you notice poor pacing, try rearranging scenes or spreading out the action.

Problem: Info-Dumping

A very common writing problem is info-dumping. This is when you tell your readers loads of information at a time without showing them anything important. Info-dumps usually occur in first chapters of novels, but they can happen anytime during the course of your story. Info- dumps can drag down your story and bore your readers.

Solution:

Cut out long paragraphs where you explain what’s going on in your novel and show your readers instead. Avoid over explaining things that can be explained through action. Letting your audience figure things out instead is a much more satisfying reading experience and it lets your readers connect with your characters on a deeper level.

-Kris Noel

(via screenandscripts)

05:21 pm: itskon6,332 notes

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101 Practical Writing Tips From Hollywood Screenwriter Brian Koppelman - Comfort Pit

(Source: ford-downey-brosnan-missesdexter, via screenandscripts)

05:54 pm: itskon456 notes

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"Bails, it’s not that I’m afraid of him not feeling the same way."
"Then why?"
"I just don’t want it to come between us. To ruin the us now."

12:05 am: itskon

04:09 pm: itskon1 note

quote

Yesterday you
asked me in my dreams:
“Connie, what do you want
from me?”

What do I want?
It’s been four months already.
What do I want?

they say dream is just interpretation of what you already know, c.l.
08:20 pm: itskon1 note

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Anonymous asked: any tips on creating a fictional town in america? I went through the settings tag and couldn't find much

thewritingcafe:

Pick a Region: (Italicized states could fit into more than one group, depending on who you ask, and some people list more or less regions than the ones listed below)

  • Northeast: New York, Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey
  • Midwest: Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma
  • Southwest: Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Nevada
  • South: Texas, Alabama, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Maryland, Delaware, Louisiana, Arkansas, 
  • West: California, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming, Idaho, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Montana
  • Non-Contiguous: Alaska, Hawaii

Once you’ve got your region, narrow it down by state. You don’t have to get more specific than that if you don’t want to, but your character’s world will give away what region they’re in and possibly the state based on clues. Here is what you should know when creating your fictional town in a region/state:

  • Environment: Know the environment of your region or state. There are no wolves (except for isolated incidents) in areas like the lower Midwest, so it would be odd for your characters to come across a pack of wolves in a southern Wisconsin forest.
  • Climate: There are tons of different climates around the US. If the area of your town is specific (like how South Park is a mountain town in Colorado), you’ll need to know more about that climate. If your characters are in a temperate region, you just need the seasons to change depending on the timeline of your story. If your characters live in a region where heavy snowfall is common, snow days at school will be rare.
  • Culture: Slang, common religions, architecture, food, popular music, references (to nearby cities, sports teams, etc.), etc. vary by region, by state, and by city. Some slang is only found in certain cities or certain regions of a state.

Type of Town:

  • Rural: Rural towns are found in the countryside, often with low populations. 
  • Suburban-Rural: These are a mix of suburbia and the countryside. Houses may be placed farther apart, the town might be larger than a suburb without having a larger population, and there may be small businesses.
  • Suburban: Suburbs are just outside cities and large towns and are primarily residential, meaning there are not a lot of businesses. In the US, it’s typical for suburbs to have single-family homes (though there are multi-family homes sometimes), sidewalks, and gaps between houses. Suburbs are a favorite for authors, especially YA authors.
  • Suburban-Urban: These are between the “true” suburbs and the city, often sitting on the border of the city. They have residential areas, but also everything you might find in a city such as busy streets, public transportation, several businesses, and buildings. You’re more likely to find multi-family homes and apartment buildings in suburban-urban towns than you are with suburban homes.
  • Urban: Urban towns aren’t necessarily in the heart of the city (the main tourist areas). Urban neighborhoods, towns, villages, etc., vary greatly by city and each one has its own unique culture and demographics, especially if there is a large population of immigrants in the area. Some urban towns can resemble suburban towns.

When you’ve got your town, draw a map for it. Note important places, like schools and the homes of characters. If your characters are in a suburb or a suburb-urban town, pick either a real city or a fictional city in a real state to put it around.

If your characters are in school and you want a lot of characters, pick an urban, suburban-urban, or suburban town. For the last one you can have more than one suburb share a school. If your character works at a place like a major law firm, they’ll probably need to be near a city. Think about what your character needs to pick a town.

Other:

  • Name: If you know what region your town is set in, look at the names of real towns around that area. They usually follow a pattern. The name of the town can be the name of schools, businesses, streets, and parks too.
  • History: If needed, come up with a history for your town. You might not think you need it at first, but it can come in handy. For example, if you need your characters to be at an event, there can be a party for the town’s 100th birthday. The age of the town might also determine the architecture.
  • Appearance: In the town I grew up on, every property had at least one (big) tree on the front lawn thus creating an arch of branches and leaves over every residential street in the summer. What does your town look like? Are there boulevards? Parks? Fences? Alleys? Driveways? Streetlights? Public transportation? Tall houses? Wide houses? Large properties? Small properties? Is it hilly or flat? While there may be a combination of all of these things, certain traits may be more dominant or typical.
  • Activities: What is there to do in your town? Is there a popular hangout? Is there a beach nearby? Do people go to a nearby city for fun? Are there certain areas within the environment (cliffs, clearings in a forest, a lake, etc.) that are popular hangout spots?
  • Keep track of all facts: Write down everything about your town so that you don’t end up with inconsistencies. Keep a list of schools, businesses, public places, government buildings, and everything else that is relevant.

Your town has to be realistic. Readers should have an idea of where this town is or what is near it. A suburban town in the middle of nowhere with no mention of where it is and varying ecosystems isn’t realistic. It’s surreal, distant, and might only work in certain fantasy genres. A town with a population of 15,000 people, but with four middle schools, two churches, a mosque, a synagogue, two law firms, no variation in economic or social class, eight restaurants, and a car dealership is unrealistic unless this small town is used as a center for several other towns.

08:22 pm: itskon1,828 notes

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what’s the point of
knowing all these big 
and fancy words if
you’re not here 
to listen?

09:19 pm: itskon1 note

Link

men to the left
women to the right

eight short, simple words
come like a robber
and take
away innocent images

one thought—at all
costs
not to lose him
not to be alone

my hand on my father’s arm
lived and
breathed 
together. 

despite our enemy’s scorn, 
we struck
a hard blow
a smile of contempt. 

08:22 pm: itskon1 note

picture
writeworld:

10 secrets to writing a memoirby Now Novel
Memoir writing is not just a popular commercial genre but a satisfying and sometimes even therapeutic creative endeavour. Some of the keys to memoir writing are unique to the genre while others are similar to the advice you’d hear for any other type of writing with a bit of an added twist.
Know your field. As with any genre, you should be well-read in the best the memoir has to offer before embarking on your own. Look into some of the award-winning and best-selling memoirs such as those by Frank McCourt, Mary Karr and Dorothy Allison, and try to sample a variety from different times and places. You probably won’t like everything that you read even amongst the popular memoirists; when that happens, note what you disliked about the memoir and why.
Remember it’s a story first and foremost. You have all the techniques of fiction at your disposal, and you should use them. This can be anything from recreating dialogue to rearranging the order in which you tell your story. Just because it happened to you in a linear fashion doesn’t mean your memoir has to be linear as well.
Read More →
(image from here)

writeworld:

10 secrets to writing a memoir
by Now Novel

Memoir writing is not just a popular commercial genre but a satisfying and sometimes even therapeutic creative endeavour. Some of the keys to memoir writing are unique to the genre while others are similar to the advice you’d hear for any other type of writing with a bit of an added twist.

  1. Know your field. As with any genre, you should be well-read in the best the memoir has to offer before embarking on your own. Look into some of the award-winning and best-selling memoirs such as those by Frank McCourt, Mary Karr and Dorothy Allison, and try to sample a variety from different times and places. You probably won’t like everything that you read even amongst the popular memoirists; when that happens, note what you disliked about the memoir and why.
  2. Remember it’s a story first and foremost. You have all the techniques of fiction at your disposal, and you should use them. This can be anything from recreating dialogue to rearranging the order in which you tell your story. Just because it happened to you in a linear fashion doesn’t mean your memoir has to be linear as well.

Read More →

(image from here)

02:35 pm: itskon565 notes

quote
You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it.
That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.
Octavia E. Butler (via fictionwritingtips)

(via writeworld)

06:34 pm: itskon5,070 notes