How to write a better story?
Of the four core language skills, writing is often the bane of students struggling with English. Writing essays are one thing, but stories are a whole different beast entirely. It’s tough enough having to think about grammar and spelling, but with stories you have to think about a plot, characters, a timeline, and much much more. It’s easy to see why many people just give up in trying to become good writers in English. Still, learning how to effectively write stories in English is a useful skill to pick up, even if only just to get past barriers in school. Let’s look at a few common mistakes that students tend to make with stories.
Let’s start with a common trap that students fall into. When writing stories, some tend to just think that they just have to keep listing events that happen. For example, when writing about a trip to a shopping mall, the student might write: “I got off the bus. I went into the shopping mall. I walked around…” etc. until the story ends. Perhaps, with this kind of problem, there is a fundamental misunderstanding of what a story should be about. A story is, at its core, a chain of events, but a long chain of events without any detail doesn’t really make for an interesting read, does it? Instead of focusing on quantity, you want to have quality instead. Next time you write a story, instead of coming up with a laundry list, try listing two or three main events related to the topic, and write about those few events in as much detail as you can. Talk about what the characters see, hear, smell, touch, etc. With some practice and guidance, you’ll find that your stories will have more depth to them.
Another element that would be a good idea to incorporate in stories more often is dialogue. Description of events and people are important, of course, but in order to elevate your story even more, you want to make the reader feel like they were personally there at the scene. Dialogue is a great tool for achieving that effect. By writing a conversation between characters, the reader can better picture how a scene occurred in their hands, as it’s as much of a form of description as regular description is. It doesn’t have to be really fancy; just see if you can get some inspiration from conversations you have in real life, or from what you’ve heard or read in media (don’t copy, though!).
Lastly, don’t chain your own creativity down. A story doesn’t really have to be grounded in reality. Even if the premise of your story is based on real life, you can add a twist to it using your imagination, as long as it fits the plot you’re going for. Some older students might think it makes their story childish, but the twist doesn’t have to be super extraordinary. For example, if you’re writing about your school life, you could turn it into a horror story by adapting an urban legend about spirits in the bathroom or something. There doesn’t need to actually be a silly ghost that waves at you in the plot; just the idea is enough.
I hope these three tips helped. Next time, when you sit down and write a story, try and keep these in mind, and take measures to avoid making said mistakes. It’s sure to improve your grades and whatnot!