Submitted Date 03/17/2019

Storytelling is a learned craft, one that often seems daunting and overwhelming, but once you get the basics down, the rest comes with practice and time. I was once in your shoes, I had the best ideas for a plot in mind but no idea how to put my thoughts to paper, and with a little bit of guidance, I was able to get my story rolling. Today, I’m going to bestow the same wisdom onto you.


The first step to writing a riveting story is to simply put your ideas on paper. It can be single words or full sentences, we’ll turn them into coherent thoughts later. Be it a romance novel, murder mystery, or horror story, this will always be your first step. For me, it helps to bullet point my thoughts and categorize them (settings, characters, motives, etc.), but it’s important to organize your work in the way that works best for you. Remember, writing is a process, not a one-shot gig. All good things take time.


The next step would be to expand on your general ideas and add more specifics to them. What is your goal in this story? What message are you trying to send to the reader? These are important questions to ask yourself when you’re putting your story together. Be sure to add some plot twists along the way.


Thirdly, you want to spend some quality time in the world-building stage. Too often authors skip out on creating the setting for their story to take place. The setting carries with it a lot unspoken meaning, and can be used to enhance the plot. I have a preference for creating a stark juxtaposition between the setting and what my character wants. You can also use subtle aspects of your scene to reveal messages in your story. Symbolism is a tool that authors love to use! When you’re world-building, be sure to include diversity in your story, add in multiple languages (could even include dialects of the same language), and add rules and laws.


Next up: the characters. Who do you want them to be? Not only appearance, but what’s their personality like? How many family members do they have? What was their childhood like? What is their weaknesses? Strengths? Remember, you’re creating an entire person, think deeper than the surface. You can find several different lists of crucial character building questions online if you need a bit of inspiration. I also find that creating a map of all of my characters and their relationship to one another assists in the development of my story, it keeps everything nice and neat.


Now we get into the fun part. We have our characters, our goal, our world; only thing left to do is design the plot. This part largely depends on your goal for the story. You should ask yourself two questions when approaching the topic: “What does my character want more than anything? And how can I prevent them from getting it?” There is no success without struggle, so what are some roadblocks you can create to make the story more interesting? When writing scenes, break up your sentence structure, and watch the adverbs. Sometimes simplicity is better than poetic descriptions of Person A crossing the hall to meet Person B. The key to a good plot is to leave some things up to the reader’s imagination. One of the best pieces of advice I ever received is that in every scene you write, each character should want something. It doesn’t have to be anything big, but without a want, there lacks a point. Dialogue is a great way to incorporate these wants, you can do this by having a character bring up their desire or even by describing how they speak. It’s amazing what a few adjectives can do for your story.


For incorporating action into your story, be sure to do your research on the topics before you put it in your story. Terminology, facts, limits; all things to be aware of when incorporating conflict into your plotline. Nothing is more of a turn-off for the reader than overly exaggerated motions or actions, and you want to keep your audience’s attention, especially in the intense parts.


The best thing about writing is that you’re entirely in control. Writing is often a way to escape for those who need it, and I consider myself one of those people. So the absolute most important piece of wisdom I can share, is to write the story you need to hear. You are a master of your creation, every character can have a happy ending if you want it that way- even you.


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    • Samantha Setters 4 years, 8 months ago

      Thank you! It fills my heart knowing people enjoy writing and expression as much as I do.

  • Carrie VanHoose 4 years, 8 months ago

    Great tips in deed. I'm currently working on my first novel and I am doing all the things you've mentioned. Creating a piece of fiction that begins to grow and take on a life of its own is exhilarating. What were once just notes on a paper are now people with a past, present, and for some a future. Glad to be a part of such a great group of people with passion for writing. 🌴😎🌴

  • Miranda Fotia 4 years, 8 months ago

    This advice is very helpful! Thank you for sharing!

  • José Liboy 4 years, 5 months ago

    These are very warming tips. I prefer strong images more than characterization, and the idea of creating a character is something I have not thought of. I will think about this in my next posts.

  • Alexander 4 years, 5 months ago

    Great stuff! Have you read any craft books on writing?

  • Carrie Lowrance 4 years, 4 months ago

    Great article, Samantha! As a fellow writer who is working on her first full-length book, I found your tips to be very helpful.

  • Jasmine Farrell 4 years, 1 month ago

    Good informational piece. Short and to the point!

  • Jacqueline Hemingway 1 year, 2 months ago

    I suppose at one time I wrote like this, or more accurately, prepared to write like this. It is a bit of a joy to see a young writer such as yourself with the zeal to write and to share your discoveries with others. Remember this time, when you get to be my age, (I am more than twice your age) reflect back on these moments in the youth of your writing career. I wonder if your craft will develop as mine did. For me, long gone are the days of the structure of outlining that you lay out here. After five decades of writing it is so ingrained into my literary psyche that all of the above happens on autopilot. My last novel was outlined and plotted completely in my head and I wrote a 240 page novel in 8 days, a little upsetting as I had only planned on it taking 7 days to finish. I hope you see this as an encouragement, that one day the art of writing will have instilled in you the ability to forge the internal workings of your story so completely that you will look back as I am now and gaze in wondrous merriment at the evolution of your art craft. You are off to a great start. Keep up the wonderful work!