AN: So, my first original published work on here. Interesting; I never thought the first thing I would publish would be an essay! Why would I want to do something like that while on vacation? Anyway, I hope you enjoy it and I hope it helps you with your future writing endeavours!
Hello there. My name is Mei-Ling, and I am a writer. I have written many things, be it multichapter fan fictions to poems or just little drabbles on my computer. As time goes on, I get better and better and my writing becomes… how do I say it… not bad? When I look back at some of my earlier works, I can't help but cringe at how bad it is. But when I look at stuff now, I can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that it has improved. So, to help aspiring writers such as yourself (because if you didn't want to write, why would you have an account on here?), I have put together a string of essays focusing on the absolute crucial aspects of any story. Yes, my friends, it is time for "The Do's and Don'ts of Story Writing".
Do have an interesting plot line.
Let's face it, if your story doesn't have an interesting plot line, then people will become bored and stop reading it. I don't mean you have to go over the top with some crazy time-traveling, sci-fi, wizard and vampire battle to the death adventure of all time plot line; I'm just saying it has to be good, attention grabbing, and constant. Your plot is the definition of your story- what the story's about. You want people to like it and want to keep reading more. You can't do that unless your plot is good.
So, what exactly makes a good plot line? Well, aside from something attention grabbing, it should have a decent amount of plot twists to keep the reader on the hook, it should stay constant throughout the story, and it should be clear so it is easy to understand. Now I know what you're probably thinking: How can a plot line be constant if it has plot twists? Well, let me make it a little clearer.
When I say a plot has to be constant, I mean it has to stay true throughout the entire story. If you write a book about an apple that wants to journey to the Marshmallow Kingdom and play poker with his friend the Marshmallow Bunny (horrible plot I know, but I just needed some random example), that is what the story has to be about. You can't just randomly decided to have the apple fall into a ditch on the red brick road and end up in the Land of Unicorns and Fairies where he has tea with the Unicorn Princess. That makes no sense whatsoever. That is not a plot twist, that's just changing the plot entirely.
But, you can however change something within the plot, so long as the overall goal is the same. Let's say the apple arrives in the Marshmallow Kingdom, only to find that it melted under the hot summer sun. But, there's a guard there that says all of the inhabitants have migrated to the Land of Unicorns and Fairies. So, the apple journeys to the Land of Unicorns and Fairies via the ditch in the red brick road and he still ends up playing poker with the Marshmallow Bunny. That is a plot twist. Not only does it make this already ridiculous story even more entertaining, but it stays true to the original plot and what the apple initially wanted to do still happened. In the end, he played poker with the Marshmallow Bunny and nothing changed. That is staying constant with the plot while still having interesting plot twists.
Now that that's cleared up, let's move on to making a story appealing. The plot has to grab the reader's attention. And it all depends on the kind of reader, too. Not everyone likes the same thing, but a reader can be persuaded to try the story out if it sounds good enough. Yes, it completely ignores the old saying "Don't judge a book by its cover" but who really abides by that rule anyway? I certainly don't.
An interesting plot is like Harry Potter. Not only do you grow up with the character, but you go on this amazing adventure full of magic and spells and werewolves and evil wizards and such. Plus, it has more than one book, which separates each adventure, thus making you want to read what happens next and wonder if this is the time Harry will finally beat Voldemort. A good plot is something original, something out of the ordinary. While practically all plots have been done hundreds of times, there are always things you can do as a writer to make it unique to your style. But I don't want to dive into that yet, I'll get to it later.
An example of an uninteresting plot is (I know I'm going to get flames for this) Twilight. Let's face it, Twilight had a horrible plot, heck, it didn't even have one at all! And this is from experience because I read the books and God were they awful. I'm sorry to you Twilight fans out there, but I just can't stand it. Not to mention the fact that the characters are just plan horrible, but I'll get to that later too because I know it'll just turn into a five chapter rant. Anyway, if you look at what the plot was suppose to be, it was just Bella falling in love with Edward and Jacob and having to pick between the two, ultimately choosing Edward and turning into a vampire. That was it. Nothing happened in the second, third, or fourth book. It was all just an action-less pile of nothing. If your story in any way, shape, or form resembles Twilight, then I guarantee not many people will read it. That's just the cold hard truth.
Last but not least, the plot should be clear. Once again, I'm going to use Twilight as an example of what not to do. After reading the second book, I honestly couldn't understand what the plot was supposed to be. Was Bella choosing Jacob or what? Why was Edward trying to expose himself? If Bella still loved him, then why was she going after Jacob instead? I'm sure many other readers had the same question. Bottom line, make the plot clear. If a person can't understand what the plot is supposed to be, then you have a serious issue. A reader will drop the book if they can't understand what they're reading. Define it and remind the reader what it's about every now and then, but don't constantly repeat it. That would be just downright annoying. We don't need to be told left and right what the book is about. Just a little reminder here and there should be plenty.
So, you have the starting point of a good story. Now you ask, what's next? Well, my friend, it's time to fill in the story with characters. Next chapter, I will teach you the art of developing characters the right way and what not to do. Yes, this includes more Twilight bashing. Gotta love Twilight bashing. Stay tuned!
AN: Short, I know, but I can't exactly rant about this stuff for hours unlike some people. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed it! Please comment/review and tell me what you thought about it or if you have suggestions on what I should write about. Also, if you agree/disagree with anything that I've said, let me know in the comments! Feedback is much appreciated.
Mei-Ling out. :3