Tell Me A Story - writing tips
From time to time, I’m asked how to go about generating conflict in a story. It isn’t magic; it comes about when a certain mixture of elements in a story, are correctly balanced.
I can’t claim this to be complete, but here’s a short list that might be useful as a starting point for creating tension in stories.
- The aims of the central characters should be contradictory, and mutually exclusive.
- The central characters should be fighting to reach their separate goals autonomously, and to the detriment of the other.
- The path your characters take in reaching their goals becomes the foundation of action. You should exploit the actions and contradictions - take full advantage to heighten the tension.
- The plot should have a poignant side.
- Strong feeling shouldn’t merely be narrated in characters; show by reactions, don't tell.
- Emotions that you invoke in your readers are what count most.
- It’s essential you understand the feelings you wish to stir in your reader before you write. You must write with that emotion in mind at all times.
- The theme of the story should be one about which you care deeply.
- You must be affected by your characters, and caught up with what happens to them.
- You should believe in your characters and empathise with their struggle. If you don’t, how can anyone else. Your work will lack the oomph that tempts people to turn pages.