Characters

  • Remember to give your characters opinions. Make them different from everybody else's and compelling, as well! It's all well and good having one character say they don't like something and the other character saying they do. Make character one say assassination is immoral, and character two say the king’s death will bring peace.
  • There are two kinds of characters. Those who learn lessons from the outside world, and those who teach the outside world. Both are compelling and interesting, so choose what one you want to write about wisely.
  • Don't be scared to write a black character, a woman, a gay man, or an autistic person. They can make for some very interesting characters. However, research will be your best friend, so don’t betray it.
  • Related: there’s a time and a place for stereotypes. Use them wisely.
  • Don't be afraid to play with character dynamics. Opposing personality types can be extremely fun to write about, but those who get along can warm your heart. You're writing them, so you may as well have fun while doing so.
  • Make even your one-off characters have entertaining personalities, and make every single character, whether that be the main, side, or minor, compelling. Make that coworker that comes along one time fly into the cubicle. Make the main a moody guy with a massive heart of gold. Make his wife kind, but stern.
  • On the flip side, remember your characters are people (even animals, cos they're humanised), and people are boring. Flesh them out entirely and make them three-dimensional, but we get drawn into the story through what happens; not who the characters are. Don't focus too much on making them the best, most dynamic character ever.

Plot and story

  • This is taken straight from Pixar's 22 rules of storytelling (which I highly recommend you check out), but coincidences that get characters into trouble are great; coincidences that get them out of it is cheating. Make your characters figure their way out of trouble.
  • Every plot’s been done, every story’s been done. You may have heard this advice a million times, but seriously, don’t worry about creating an original story. It can’t be repeated enough how important it is to write a story that you want to write. If it’s a good story, originality doesn’t matter.
  • Your reader will love it when you subvert expectations. Make the damsel a badass who rescues herself, make the big boss kind, or make the redhead as timid as possible. Don’t go overboard, though; meeting an expectation followed by a subversion makes the subversion more impactful.
  • Chekhov’s gun, red herrings, MacGuffins. Don’t be afraid to use them, as they can be excellent plot devices, but use them wisely. Your reader will swallow it up if it’s done well, but will tear you apart if not.
  • If you’re ever stuck, read the front page of newspapers, look up some interesting articles, or flip through channels and combine them in your mind. You’re not having a writer’s block; you just haven’t found any inspiration.
  • Outlining is important! Your outline can be as simple as one sentence about what happens in each chapter, but without a plan, you’re going to lack structure.
  • Experiment. Experimentation is good! It gives us great stories and unique ideas. Play with clichés, write that challenging character, set your story somewhere you haven't been, try that tough perspective or point of view. Have fun with your writing.
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General writing

  • Don't be afraid to play around with or change ideas, even towards the end of the writing process. Create the perfect story. Put full love and care into every single one of your stories!
  • Don't worry about titles. Unless the perfect title, like “Stronger”, comes to mind straight away, worry about character and plot first.
  • Kind of related to that, don't expect perfection from your first draft. You can experiment all you want, but remember that even with the most original ideas you have, nothing trumps a good story. Focus on making that good story, even if it takes you a thousand tries.
  • Not everyone will like your story, so don't try to appease to them. If someone doesn't like first person, then oh, well. If someone doesn't like fantasy, then oh, well. If someone doesn't like you, then oh, well. Write a story you want to write, even if a group of people wouldn't read it.
  • Research. Read. Research the economy of Romania and read books that are in first person, for example. Your most valuable asset is the outside world.
  • Don't get discouraged or defensive about negative criticism or rejection. Take it on board, think why, or in the case of finding someone to publish your story, try as many times as you can.
  • Vary your sentence length. This sentence is boring. So is this one. But suddenly, with many more words than the previous three, this one is much more interesting. But with few, so’s this one. It’s never spoken about, but it makes your writing way more interesting. Don’t force it, though. Forced writing’s never good.
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