Saturday, November 3, 2018

Worry About Telling Your Story, by Jamie Wilson

Jamie Wilson, a member of Internet Writing Workshop, gives valuable advice in this guest blog.

"Don't worry about taste or any other sense. Worry about telling your story.

Start with an arrival or a departure - it introduces chaos into a balanced system and gives you instant conflict. You have this stable system - a jail or a mental institution or a home or an office - and when you introduce a single person to it (or subtract one) the social dynamic changes, often catastrophically. You can do all kinds of things with that. (This idea came from John Gardner)

Start your story with something that inspires the reader to ask a question. You want your reader to finish that first sentence. When you open like this, readers want to keep going until they get that answer. The trick to keep them moving: make sure you keep adding new questions before answering the old ones.

Give your reader a tiny little taste of the world, and then focus on a single character.  Cut out everything mundane: eating, walking, chatting about action taking place, clothing, men looking at women's bodies.
Focus on what is important. Focus on conflict, inner and outer. Look around, and use the surroundings to define your characters. Feel. Express emotion. Make things active - do not discuss what has already happened, but rather start your story in the middle of action.

 Above all else, make every word move your story toward a goal - something that happens at the end of the scene, the building of a relationship critical to the story, a plot conflict, a problem. If a word does not at minimum do that, you need to cut it out. Try to make each word do several  things - build mood, describe, move plot forward, etc.

Finish the story. Do not obsess about this stuff. Give yourself permission to write utter crap. You do not have to make every word perfect. Few writers create a stellar work the first time around, and sometimes not the tenth or hundredth time around. Most of your work is done in editing. You have to have a story written down in order to edit."

Learn more about Jamie and read her stories here:

Founder, The Conservative Fiction Project
Senior Editor,
Liberty Island Media
Become a member of Internet Writing Workshop for valuable help to successful writing.

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