Elements to Think About Before Writing Your Story

I’ve been quite busy critiquing and attending writing improvement classes. Here are some things I learned that might help you. Ask your self these questions before you write your story.

  • Who is your protagonist?
  • What is his/her initial problem?
  • What does your protagonist want?
  • What gets in the way?
  • Why does he/she want that goal?
  • What happens if he/she doesn’t get it?
  • What event starts the story?
  • What deadline does the protagonist have?
  • What is the ending?
  • Who is your villain?
  • What is your protagonist’s inner conflicts?

Now figure out, who are your readers? Don’t say everybody because that isn’t true. What age group or gender would your story appeal to?

Here is an exercise for you. This should work for your protagonist, secondary characters, and your villain.

  •  What is the character’s name?
  • age and sex?
  • physical description
  • Where does your character live?
  • What does your character hate?
  • What does he/she fear?
  • Any particular skills?
  • married or love interest?
  • any children?
  • job history?
  • strengths and weaknesses?
  • hobbies?
  • does he/she drive or mode of transportation?
  • what is the character’s backstory?

After you’ve figured out these things, write a book jacket in 1-3 sentences. Believe it or not, you can do this, even if you don’t know all the details of your story yet. Good luck.

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Checklist for Revision

  • Before you submit your manuscript to an editor or agent, print it out and read it aloud. You’ll catch any typos or missed words this way.
  •  Today’s computer systems have a feature in them to alert you to grammar issues and spelling errors. Use it.
  • Does your character have a clear want that moves the plot along?
  • Have you made it clear what your protagonist’s desires and fears are?
  • Do your characters have distinct speech patterns or details that the reader knows who is speaking without a dialogue tag?
  •  Have you included obstacles in your story to play on your character’s fears and weaknesses? Have the obstacles increased and become more difficult over time?
  • Does every plot event challenge, reveal, and shape your main character?
  • Does the plot contain any twists or surprises?
  • Does the ending of your story resolve the conflict? Is it inevitable?
  • Does each chapter end with a hook for the reader to want to turn the page?
  • Does your story start with a great hook?
  •  Ask a fellow writer or critique group to analyze your writing before turning it in. Unless your spouse is a fellow writer, don’t bother asking their opinion.

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Tips For Writing That Middle Grade Novel

A Middle Grade novel are for elementary and middle school themed. They have less darkness and sweeter endings than YA. They are more open to curriculum tie-ins and educational content. The view of the story is through the eyes of the MG character. It starts with the character. Ask yourself these questions about your character before you write the story:

  • What are their hopes & dreams?
  • What do they want?
  • What obstacle is standing in their way?
  • What problem must they solve?
  • What specific action must they take to overcome obstacle?
  • What is their flaw?
  • What are they afraid of?
  • What does the character need to learn & evolve over the course of the story?

The protagonist needs to be someone the reader cares about and wants to know better. They should be active in their own story. They should have believable motives and care deeply for things and people. The character should not be afraid to take risks and have strong opinions and believes about the world and themselves. Kids are real people with real problems, yet use humor whenever you can. It can be situational funny, instead of comedy. Don’t preach or talk down. Kids hear enough in real life. Balance actions and feelings. Read a lot of MG to get a handle on it. Sit at a mall or other places where kids hang out and just listen to their speech and the things they talk about.

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Short Story Contest

Here is a contest some of you writers out there might want to chance. It’s run by Owl Canyon Press. There isn’t any cost to enter. The stories must be in English. The catch is to use only 50 paragraphs total and each paragraph must have at least 40 words. There isn’t a maximum word count. Owl Canyon Press also provides the first sentence and the 25th sentence. Interested? Go to www.owlcanyonpress.com to enter and further instructions.

Let’s see how clever and wise you are.

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