About Writing
Ages: 13-14
Creating a Strong Story
Amy Sparrow (mod)

Allison asked for some ideas on how to think of a story to write a book about, and that got me thinking up some tips for when you are thinking of starting a story.

With fiction you don't necessarily have to write what you know (although if it’s current or historical fiction then be sure to check your facts), but do write what you care about. Do you really identify with the importance of family? Write about siblings who have been torn apart or estranged and want to find each other or reconnect. Or write about an orphan who is looking for a family.

Do you know how it feels to be an outcast and have no close friends? Write about a prisoner of war, or someone with an illness, or a kid who is bullied at school.

Do you know how it feels to have to work really, really hard to learn something in school? Apply that feeling to something else, and write about a character who is a servant and can’t get it right when their master tells them to do something, or about an apprentice who is trying to learn to earn a living.

Just think of things you do have experience with, and then give it a twist. What else in the world (or fantasy land) could that create a similar feeling to?

Another tip is to make sure you have interesting story events. Everyone knows what it's like to get up in the morning and look for something to wear and then eat breakfast. Instead, write about more interesting things that will keep us wanting to know what happens next. If it’s not an exciting detail, but needs to be given so the readers know how the character ended up where they did, then just mention it quickly in passing. Then spend the rest of the time explaining the details of the important parts. Don’t tell us a conversation happened—show us every word of the conversation.

Every story has to have conflict. By that, I mean your main character has to have something they want that they don't have yet. Maybe it's a friend or confidence or freedom or even a different location then where they are now, or to win a contest or a fight, or pass a test. But they have to have some kind of challenge—you don't have a story if you don't have conflict.

Keep your characters two-dimensional. Don't make them all good or all bad, but give them a touch of each, just like in real life. They should have pet peeves and strengths and weaknesses. You should know way more about the character than the readers will ever get told, because that helps you round them out into a full person.

Hope that helps!

Remember, you can get even more detailed advice for how to write exciting fiction by getting my e-book, Bring Your Writing to Life, for only a dollar. Message me for the discount code that is just for you FW kids.
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