So I know a lot of this is probably flawed, but these are some notes I’ve written down for myself over the last year. Most of this isn’t complete, but critique is welcomed and very appreciated. Or suggestions to what I should add or change.

I hope this is helpful in any way.

Writing Notes

-Write for fun.

-Have something to say.

-Writing is a creative medium, try not to limit yourself to realism.

-Your first draft will always be the worst one, so keep rewriting.

-Convey ideas easily, avoid uses of unnecessary eloquent words.

-The first idea is the most obvious, think it over five more times.

-Write as if you’re sharing a story with an audience, don’t visualize for them; let them use their own imagination.

-Don’t throw away ridiculous and outlandish ideas, as the writer you should enjoy the story the most.

-There will always be someone who dislikes or has a problem with your writing, don’t let it hold you back.

-You can always improve your story with another draft, but eventually you will have to hand in something.

-If you want your story to be remembered past it’s genre, then make the core of the story deeply human. Even if it’s fantasy, try to enrich it with a genuine human experience; something that connects with readers on a deeply personal level. Have your characters react to the world, make them as human as possible.

-Don’t reveal meanings. Let readers interpret their own meaning from your text, even if it’s not the meaning you had in mind. (i.e) Symbolism, allegories.

-It’s better to write straight through your story and not put too much attention into the latter half. If you do then you lose momentum, you can return and fix things when you’re finished. And possibly discover things you want to add or takeout that you wouldn’t have realized beforehand.

-Use swearing sparsely, excessive swearing is immature and irritating, and is also a sign of insecurity in ones own writing. Try to use in moments of emotional climax, or to increase the tension of a scene.

-Don’t blatantly reveal the time period, instead leave hints and small details eluding to when the story is taking place. (i.e) In flashbacks.

World

-Be consistent with the rules you apply to your world, bend them if needed but insure that it is tonally consistent. (i.e) A concept or theme that contradicts how it was previously presented. Or a concept suddenly included that is tonally disruptive to other concepts. (e.g) Medieval knights with guns in a time piece.

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-Don’t be afraid to flip ideas or get creative, so long as it doesn’t break any rules you’ve set up.

-Show don’t tell, but on occasion it’s just as important to not show and not tell. Leave somethings open to interpretation, or reveal information through environment, not explanation. (i.e) Dark Souls.

-Establish what the world is normally like first, that way if you choose to include an event that dramatically changes the world the reader will feel the full impact.

Character

-When first writing a character, try to write them first without gender or ethnicity in mind. This way you can focus more on universal human experiences than stereotypes, and can add whatever background and gender afterwards. The character itself is what’s most important, not what they are. (i.e) Ripley from Aliens.

-A character’s gender, ethnicity, or sexuality isn’t their most important trait, but take advantage of any potential conflicts, character development, or a plot elements that could occur regarding it. (i.e) Starling from Silence of the Lambs.

-An engaging character has identifiable and interesting traits before they have relatable ones.

-Avoid explaining the characters emotions directly, instead describe body language and mannerisms to infer what they’re feeling.

-Avoid the habit of introducing too many characters, a large cast will mean many will remain undeveloped.

-Show the most relevant and interesting aspects of a character first, and leave out any unimportant details; or use it in subtle characterization. (i.e) Including the fact that a character loves coffee when it is not relevant. Can instead describe a scene where the character happens to drink an excessive amount of coffee, leaving room for further characterization.

-Every advancement the protagonist(s) makes or achievement they reach should feel earned, not given or happenstance. (i.e) Learning a skill through trial and error or becoming stronger through mental and physical discipline. Progress towards their goal through their own hard work or wit.

-Your world should feel alive, not filled. There is a world beyond the characters, the settings and inhabitants should add depth to that world; instead of just filling it out. Every setting is it’s own character with it’s own story.

-Characters wouldn’t normally explain concepts they’re familiar with unless one of those characters is alien to it.

-If your character is fleshed out and well written, they should be able to carry out a story individually. (i.e) Subplots involving one or more characters diverting from the group or main objective.

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-Your characters’ goal doesn’t need to encompass the outcome of the world. The world can remain the same as it started, so long as the characters story and motivation reach a conclusion.

Elliptical Storytelling

-The story progresses through the background, without the reader. The reader must piece together gaps themselves. The author refraining from pointing attention to growth or changes in the narrative and characterization. If done well, the reader won’t realize the volume of change until a significant amount has already occurred. (i.e) Changes in personality and mannerisms, or changes in motivations and ideals through subtle growth across the story.

-The world is indifferent to the protagonist(s), a fully realized world will change with or without the involvement of the main characters or the readers.

Action & Consequence

-Character death itself is not important, instead it’s the impact that it has on the characters and the narrative going forward. Death is often used to simply shock the readers instead of adding weight to decisions or shift dynamics. There should always be a dramatic consequence that results from the aftermath.

-Death is sudden, brutal, unfair, and especially unexpected. Rarely should characters be given the chance to bid their final farewells, or be given the infamous ‘clutching final embrace.’ Avoid signposting a character’s death, or risk severely undermining the impact it will have on the reader. It’s especially poignant if a character is well liked or “too important to kill.”

Source: reddit post


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