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Forget the Rules. Be Interesting.

February 22, 2018

I don’t think of myself as a writer. I mean, I totally write stories, but that just makes me a storyteller, right? There was always something intimidating about the word ‘writer’ to me. Probably because in college, it seemed writers were producing essays, articles, and theses by following all sorts of rules and style guides. Whereas I was constantly questioning rules or just flat out ignoring them as I wrote ridiculous horror stories with jokes and sound effects in them. *Side note: Had to look up the plural for thesis, like I said, not a writer.

 

Getting to my point, there are five things I think about when telling stories and I’d like to share those things in case you can find them useful.

 

Setting the Mood with the Setting.

The physical descriptions of scenes are usually the parts of stories that bog me down. So, when I’m describing a scene, I try to think of the setting as a character. In that way, if the setting is an important character, I want to show something interesting about it other than just how it looks. If it’s a background character, then I don’t waste much time on it at all.

 

Would You Participate in the Conversation You’re Writing?

While I always try to write believable dialogue, I’m much more concerned with writing interesting dialogue. Both Greta Gerwig’s excellent dialogue in Lady Bird and Amy Sherman-Palladino’s hilarious repartee in the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel focus more on being interesting than believable. Honestly, for me, the dialogue becomes more believable because it’s interesting.

 

Don’t Keep All Your Secrets Secret.

When building suspense or withholding information, don’t forget to give your reader a little something to snack on along the way to help keep their mind off the things you’re hiding. If you save all the cool reveals till the end, most of us might never get to them.

 

Punch Up the Action.

Much like the description of a setting, fighting scenes can become bland if all the action is just a bunch of physical descriptions of movement with kicks and punches thrown in. When doing action, you don’t need to tell me about every punch thrown, just the ones that matter. By focusing on the ones that matter, you can add in more commentary on the action itself and let me feel like I’m in on the action.

 

What’s That Smell?  

When I can help it, I don’t write a single scene that doesn’t have a scent, a sound, and a feel. The fun part is figuring out how to fit them into the scene without it becoming obvious that I’m doing it.

 

And that’s it, the five things that are on my mind when I’m writing. I’d love to hear what things you think about when writing. If you have any interesting cheat sheets or tips you use when writing, feel free to comment below! Thanks for reading. 

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