Craft,  Creativity

Five More Ways To Make Your Story “Good”

Do you ever wonder if your writing is any good?

Do you ever ask, “Is this good?”

That’s the problem with this question; we may not even know what we’re asking. 

Last week, we presented Five Ways To Make Your Story Good. This week we have five more!

6. Being good means building rising action. This means that the trouble your main characters get into needs to be progressively more treacherous or complex. Spend the first fourth of your story setting up your characters and getting them ready for the big adventure, spend the middle two fourths putting them in more and more trouble as they pursue the objective, then, have a spectacular moment when they either get what they want or they don’t and there are no other options. Then, spend a fourth, or even a bit less, cleaning up the mess and settling things down for the reader.

7. Being good means creating mutually exclusive choices. This means that your climax or your big spectacular moment puts your character in the position of either one serious objective or the other. Either they save the world from destruction or they get the girl. Either they keep the suitcase of diamonds or they keep their buddy from getting shot. Either they keep their reputation as a rule follower, for a lifetime of security, or they marry the shyster with great hair. It’s this choice, and all of the stuff leading up this choice, that will keep your readers enticed. Then, when they make the choice, make it believable, satisfying but not too predictable, so that your reader can finish the book thinking, this was a great story! 

8. Being good means creating high stakes. “High stakes” means that the potential loss to your characters, if they don’t reach their goal, will be heartbreaking, devastating or embarrassing. You can raise the stakes as the story goes along by throwing in natural disasters, untrustworthy companions, something from the past that shows up wanting something or a sheriff who shoots first and asks questions later. Having the right amount of risk for your characters will keep your reader interested, so make those characters suffer!

10 Minute Novelists is holding a Writers Conference”Spark Your Passion, Ignite Your Story” with Tex Thompson, Angela Ackerman, Eric Smith, and Steven James in the greater Cincinnati, OH area!

9. Being good means clear, concise writing. After you havecreated the main parts of the story just right, go back and make sure it’s told well. Simple, clear writing, that generally follows the rules of good grammar, will do fine. Don’t try to impress your reader with big words. Don’t try to sound like some other author. Wise writers recruit savvy buddies to help out. None of us are perfect. So make the effort to do the best you can. Oh, and there’s this: bad writing can’t save a good story. Excellent writing can make a good story into a great one!

10. Being good means being free of errors. Once the story is perfected and the writing is polished, go over your art a couple of more times and look for tiny mistakes. Generally, these are easy fixes in punctuation, grammar, or spelling that can add professionalism to your work. If you want to be taken seriously as a writer, then make sure you’ve done all you can to make your work worthy of your readers.

If you’ve done all these things, then your story is probably “good”, but even the word “good” is open to interpretation.

And a good story can’t become a great one unless these ten issues are perfected. My advice to you? Pour yourself another cup of coffee make your story the best it can be. It may never be good, but you, as a result of the hard work, will definitely be better.

Katharine Grubb is an author, poet, homeschooling mother, camping enthusiast, bread-baker, and believer in working in small increments of time. She leads 10 Minute Novelists, an international Facebook group of time-crunched writers. She lives with her family in Massachusetts.