Stories Wiki:Writing Guide

From Stories Wiki

Hello there! I bet you're excited to write a story. Well, before you write, it's important to know how to write.

Storytelling Tips

  1. Before you start writing, think of the plot. You want to write a story, but you don't know what you want to happen in it. Don't worry! It happens to all of us. When this happens, think of the plot or events that happen in the story. It helps to put the events in a graphic organizer. Here's an example plot: "You suspect that someone close to you could be a murderer, drug dealer, bank robber, etc. You set out to build your case and send him or her to justice." You don't have to write a story with that plot, but you can if you want to.
  2. Patch up plot holes. A plot hole, as defined by Wikipedia, is "a gap or inconsistency in a storyline that goes against the flow of logic established by the story's plot." For example, there are a lot of plot holes in modern Family Guy. So, if you had a character die at some point in your story and then come back later in the story fully alive, that would be a plot hole unless you explained how that character came back to life. Perhaps the character faked his or her death. Maybe he somehow survived with no pulse for a period of time. It doesn't matter how you explain it as long as it patches up the plot hole.
  3. Combine sentences when necessary. A series of long or short sentences can add impact, but they can also make your story choppy and hard to read. Variety is key. (ex. "The sky was red. The sky was cloudy. It was raining." becomes "It was raining from the cloudy red sky.") Don't take this guideline more rigidly than it really is (ex. assuming that every short sentence must be followed by a long one and vice versa). As stated before, a series of long or short sentences can add impact and make your stories more lively.
  4. Know your story. It's important to know what makes a story. See Fiction Writing Wiki for a list of writing elements.

Grammar Tips

  1. Avoid sentence fragments. Sentence fragments are pieces of sentences that cannot stand on their own. Sentence fragments are missing either a subject (ex. "Drove into the store."), a verb (ex. "The car."), or both (ex. "Into the store."). Dependent clauses (ex. "When we pulled up into the parking lot.") and verbals (ex. "The car driving into the store.") are also sentence fragments. To correct sentence fragments, either combine them with each other when possible (ex. "The car drove into the store."), combine them with sentences (ex. "When we pulled up into the parking lot, the car drove into the store."), or make them sentences (ex. "We pulled up into the parking lot."; usually done by adding what's missing or removing subordinating conjunctions such as "when".)
  2. Avoid run-on sentences and comma splices. Run-on sentences are sentences that are joined with nothing separating them (ex. "The pie was cooling on the windowsill a dog jumped up and ate it."). Comma splices are basically the same as run-on sentences, except that they're usually joined only with a comma (ex. "The pie was cooling on the windowsill, a dog jumped up and ate it."). There are several ways to correct these types of sentences, such as the following:
    1. Make them separate sentences (ex. "The pie was cooling on the windowsill. A dog jumped up and ate it.")
    2. Combine them with a coordinating conjunction (ex. "The pie was cooling on the windowsill, but a dog jumped up and ate it."). This way is most effective when the two sentences are equal in importance.
    3. Subordinate one clause (ex. "The pie was cooling on the windowsill when a dog jumped up and ate it.")
  3. Make sure the pronouns agree with the subject. Pronouns agree with the subject when it is the same case as the subject (ex. "All of the people screamed for their lives.") Avoid sentences like this: "Everyone screamed for their lives." It may sound correct, but indefinite pronouns like "everyone" take singular verbs. "Their" is a plural pronoun; it is not standard English to use it with a singular subject.
  4. Be careful where you place your modifiers. Modifiers are words or phrases used to change the meaning of a phrase. Depending on their location, modifiers can either enhance your storytelling or accidentally add humor to your story. Avoid dangling modifiers (modifiers that don't sensibly modify anything; ex. "Passing the building, the vandalism became visible." This sentence says that the vandalism was passing the building.) and misplaced modifiers (modifiers that modify the wrong phrase or idea; ex. "When in diapers, my mother remarried." This sentence says that the mother was wearing diapers, though that can be acceptable in some circumstances.) To avoid confusion, rephrase the sentence to avoid any confusion of meaning (ex. "When I was in diapers, my mother remarried.")
  5. Speaking of modifiers, make sure they only refer to one thing. When modifiers refer to two or more things, they are called squinting modifiers (ex. "When stories and sentences seem flawed, it can be confusing." The pronoun "it" refers to two things here: "stories" and "sentences".)
  6. Avoid shifts. Here are some examples:
    • Tense shifts: Tense shifts happen when a sentence or sentences shift to another tense (ex. "The situation seemed hopeless when a stranger jumps off a boat and rescues me." In this case, there was a shift from past tense to present tense.)
    • Person shifts: Person shifts happen when a sentence or sentences switch to another person (ex. "I saved the passenger of the car, and he was rewarded." There was a shift from first person to third person.)

Other Tips

  1. Don't stress too much. Even if you're a professional writer with lots of deadlines on your schedule, it's important to relax. If you find yourself getting stressed while writing, take a break and come back to it later. You'll write better when coming back to it.