To write well, there are many methods and techniques that can be used but some of which take years to develop and perfect. Not only that, but many pieces of writing advice seem to contradict each other. Which one should I follow? How do I even begin to incorporate this into my writing?
To simplify creative writing as a whole and improve your skills, let’s keep things simple by learning four basic creative writing tips for beginner writers.
Show Don’t Tell
One of the first things you learn as a writer is to ‘show, not tell’. But, what exactly does this mean? And, why is it so important?
To understand what ‘show don’t tell’ means, we must first understand the purpose of fiction. A story, whether a novel, a script, etc., isn’t just a reiteration of a past event. It’s supposed to bring you as the reader into the world you’ve created—to create an immersive experience. And, to do that, it’s essential to show your reader what is happening, not just tell them.
To create a story people can get lost in, you need more than simply the man was sad or she was excited. Instead, it’s better to describe what you’re trying to convey.
For example, instead of writing “she was excited,” show your readers. Think of how you act when you’re excited. You might smile wide, jump up and down, or become more energetic. These are all ways to convey excitement without just saying it.
Instead of writing, “she was mad,” think about how a person acts when they are mad. You could then write, “Her face became red and she tensed up.” Something to show your readers that the character is excited instead of simply saying it.
This method works for all emotions, so if you find yourself writing happy, sad, scared, confused, etc., try to rewrite it in a more descriptive way.
When it comes to the characters in your story, especially any and all main characters, each should have both an inner goal and an outer goal. These goals will be the foundation upon which your character is built.
There are many ways to make characters feel more alive, more real, and I have posts explaining those methods. But, to keep things simple, in the most basic sense, each character should have an outer, external goal, and an inner, internal goal.
The outer goal is arguably the more crucial of the two as it’s what drives the plot and usually brings the conflict (at least the majority of it). This goal is usually something physical—something that can be seen—like winning a race, finding the treasure, becoming king, etc.
The outer goal is where the antagonist comes into play as they are usually after the same (or opposite goal). Maybe your antagonist also wants to win the same race and now your main character must beat them. Or, maybe your protagonist wants to save the world while the antagonist’s goal is to destroy it. These are all examples of outer goals.
The inner goal is usually not so obvious and deals with who the character is or who they want to be. This goal provides the motivation that pushes the character forward. An inner goal might be gaining confidence, making someone proud, or redeeming themselves.
The inner goal adds depth to the character, and to the entire story.
When editing your work, it’s good to use a spell-checking app or program like Grammarly. Often our eyes can miss simple mistakes, so these programs are great at catching small spelling mistakes and easy fixes like that.
However, it’s important to look over any suggestions before implementing them as these programs are never 100% accurate.
Grammarly is my go-to as it fixes grammar mistakes as well and can be customized for your intended tone, audience, and more.
I’ve used both the free version and the paid version, and both work wonderfully.
Using something like Grammarly is similar to having another person glance over your work, so it’s highly recommended to run your writing through, even if just to catch common mistakes.
Use Your Senses
To bring the reader into your world, you want to describe the scenery, the characters, and the environment by using all of your senses.
This method is especially handy when describing locations as it builds a complete picture in the reader’s head.
Instead of describing your main character’s home with words like spacious, cluttered, bright, or colorful, write about the things you can see and smell and feel.
If the house is cluttered, write about how the various books and harsh decorations overwhelmed your eyes.
It was a bright, summer day is simple enough, but to make it more immersive you can describe the day using different senses. The trees swayed in the gentle wind as the sun shone brightly on the water.
Using your senses to describe scenes and locations is an easy way to create a more immersive reading experience.
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