Friday, May 7, 2010
How to write a winning story
4. Give your reader credit: Overly detailed description of accidents, medical performances, and torturous deaths can make the judges cringe. Give your readers credit. If you tell them Sally heard a knock on the door, they can assume she stood and walked towards the door. Avoid the need to explain more than once what's going on, as if the reader can't figure it out on his/her own. Don’t lose momentum with unnecessary details that just clutter your page.
5. Clichés: "Tears, like pearls rolled down her cheeks." "New houses sprung like mushrooms." Be creative; come up with your own similes and quirky sentences. It’s easy to fall into cliché-laden territory if you don’t edit. Wouldn’t you like to be different and have people imitate your writing?
6. Keep Focused: Make sure the tone of the story is consistent: think of a piece of music; a classical piece does not wander off into jazz, not unless the story is supposed to be that way. Keep the sentences to about thirteen words, the paragraphs to the width of the bowl of a tea spoon. Readers get bored if the writing is too dense. Keep the story and action in one place and one time slot. Stay within one story, don’t go off on a tangent because you are fascinated with your own characters and plot line. Let the character and action carry the story. Write in the active tense of verbs instead of the passive. The active tense moves the story faster.
7. Leave the soliloquy to Shakespeare: Make sure a character's internal narrative—what the character is thinking or feeling—matches up with reality. Avoid having the character think about things just for the sake of letting the reader know about them.
Remember, you’re a reader as well therefore, you don’t want your audience wasting their time with a bad story. Your readers will want to experience the events for themselves, they will want to be there to laugh or cry along with the characters.