How to write a great story

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How to write a great story Door Mind Map: How to write a great story

1. Get a writing buddy / test reader to challenge you and uncover holes in your story.

2. Stephen King's Top 10 Rules for Writers:

2.1. 1 “When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story.”

2.2. 2 Don't use the passive voice. “Timid writers like passive verbs for the same reason that timid lovers like passive partners. The passive voice is safe.”

2.3. 3 “The adverb is not your friend.” Avoid adverbs, especially after "He said", "She said"

2.4. 4 You have to read a lot. ”If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.”

2.5. 5 “The first draft of a book—even a long one—should take no more than three months, the length of a season.”

2.6. 6 “There’s should be no telephone in your writing room, certainly no TV or videogames for you to fool around with.”

2.7. 7 “You’ll find reading your book over after a six-week layoff to be a strange, often exhilarating experience.” It's important to take a break between finishing writing and starting to edit.

2.8. 8 “Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings”

2.9. 9 “Remember that word back. That’s where the research belongs: as far in the background and the back story as you can get it.”

2.10. 10 “You learn best by reading a lot and writing a lot, and the most valuable lessons of all are the ones you teach yourself.”

3. Harsh But Eye-Opening Writing Tips From Great Authors

3.1. The first draft of everything is shit. -Ernest Hemingway

3.2. Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass. -David Ogilvy

3.3. ...My advice to any young person who wants to write is: leave home. -Paul Theroux

3.4. You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club. ― Jack London

3.5. Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college. – Kurt Vonnegut

3.6. Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. – Mark Twain

3.7. Start telling the stories that only you can tell, because there’ll always be better writers than you and there’ll always be smarter writers than you. There will always be people who are much better at doing this or doing that — but you are the only you. ― Neil Gaiman

3.8. “Never ever read a powerful novel when you’re trying to write a novel of your own.” - Richard Price

4. 10 Rules for Writing First Drafts by Demian Farnworth

4.1. Barricade the door. It must be just you, the ink and the paper.

4.2. Work in a physical and mental condition that makes you want to write. Get there by all means possible.

4.3. Write yourself silly.

4.4. Allow your imagination to go to weird places. Nothing is off limits. You can clean up your mess later.

4.5. Break every writing rule known to man.

4.6. It's ok if it reads like a letter from a lunatic.

4.7. Steal stylistically from other writers, as all great writers do.

4.8. Keep your bottom in your chair until you are done.

4.9. Once you've finished a first draft, leave it alone for days, if not weeks

4.10. Celebrate.

5. Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.

6. Pixar's 22 Rules to Phenomenal Storytelling: 1-7

6.1. 1 You admire a character more for trying than for their successes

6.2. 2 Keep in mind what's interesting to an audience, not what's fun to do as a writer. They can be very different

6.3. 3 Trying for theme is important, but you won't see what the story is actually about until you're at the end of it. NOW REWRITE.

6.4. 4 Once upon a time there was ____. Every day ____. Once day ____. Because of that, ____. Until finally ____.

6.5. 5 Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You'll feel like you're losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.

6.6. 6 What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them, challenge them.

6.7. 7 Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle.

7. Pixar's 22 Rules of Phenomenal Storytelling: 7-15

7.1. 8 Finish your story, let go even if it's not perfect. Move on and do better next time.

7.2. 9 When you're stuck, make a list of what WOULDN'T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.

7.3. 10 Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you've got to recognize it before you can use it.

7.4. 11 Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it.

7.5. 12 Discount the first thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th. Get the obvious out of the way, surprise yourself.

7.6. 13 Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likeable to you as you write, but it's poison to the audience.

7.7. 14 Why must you tell this story? What's the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That's the heart of it.

7.8. 15 If you were your character in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.

8. Pixar's 22 Rules of Phenomenal Storytelling: 16-22

8.1. 16 What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don't succeed? Stack the odds against.

8.2. 17 No work is ever wasted. If it's not working, move on - it'll come back around to be useful later.

8.3. 18 You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best and fussing. Story is testing, not refining.

8.4. 19 Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great. Coincidences to get them out of trouble are cheating.

8.5. 20 Take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How would you rearrange them into what you do like?

8.6. 21 You have to identify with your situations and characters. What would make YOU act that way?

8.7. 22 What's the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.

9. Show, don't tell.

10. What is your character's greatest fear, what is their greatest secret?

11. Have the courage to write badly, and just start.