Many people struggle with writing, I get it sometime it gets hard, but never give up! Here is a list on how to improve your storytelling! These are tips I have shared for years to help everyone wanting to write stories or even improve their literary role-playing and storytelling. It’s time to bust out your thesaurus or your online dictionaries for what they were meant for!
The saying goes: write what you know. I agree fully, but what about everyone else that love writing new things, things they may not know? To that I say: write what you know because research will teach you. If you’re unsure of something fully exhaust yourself researching about a subject. Of course, go fully legal in your research and harm no one.
The best way for a writer to explain something is to compare it to something more familiar. Recently, I wrote a short story and inside of it I described a UFO as a ‘silver donut’ Seems very simple, but you now know exactly what I’m talking about right.
It’s good to be descriptive, but sometimes simple gets the job done. If you’re writing descriptively enough throughout the story comparing something unfamiliar to something that is recognizable is a great way for the reader to see in their mind what you’re trying to convey.
3. Know Your Characters/World
The best way to write a character or world is to fully flush them out. It may be tedious, but it can help very much during writing. This is also where the jokes authors make of ‘my character wouldn’t let me’ or ‘they told me how they felt’ come in. It’s from, I hope, them flushing out personalities, histories, and all of that before hand.
Ask yourself questions and answer them. Who is this man or woman? Did they overcome what they went through? Did it damage them in anyway? This is also good for world building.
Fully flush out everything, enough of everything at least. I’ve met writers that have gone above and beyond creating interesting worlds and some that have done enough.
2. Pull From Your Own Emotions
This seems easy enough, but sometimes isn’t utilized properly. I have become well known for my ’emotionally driven writing style’ and the secret is this. If I’m writing something more horrific than what I’ve been through I use how I felt to write what it is and try and add upon it.
For example: I’ve never been possessed, but I’ve written about it (Human Ouija, The Blasphemer Series: Harvest, and The Painting of Martel depict different styles of possession). I imagine the worse possible feelings I’ve gone through, wrote them, and then thought more about the character’s situation. Feeling invaded, feeling overwhelmed, and perhaps confused.
1. Remember Your Five Aristotelian Senses
The key to really pulling someone into your story and improving your own writing is remembering the 5 ‘traditional’ senses (also known as the Five Aristotelian Senses). These are touch, taste, hearing, seeing, and smell.
Ask yourself questions.
Touch/Feeling – Is it cold? How does this character feel about that? Can they feel the warmth of their coat or perhaps they feel the chill because they’re not properly dressed. Perhaps your character has picked up something, how did that object feel. You can even describe simply if it was heavy or lighter than expected.
Tasting – Is the food salty or sweet? Did that cause them to moan enjoying the flavor? Say they were hit in the mouth, what did the taste of the blood against the taste buds of their tongue taste like? Perhaps they expected something to taste delicious because it appeared that way, but sadly it was disgusting. You can describe the disgusting flavors, why it was disgusting to that character. How did the food look before they tasted it?
Hearing – If the scene is ‘quiet’ can the character hear the buzzing of the air against their eardrums? Perhaps they do and it’s interrupted by a sudden noise. How did they react to it? Was it a familiar sound of another character coming home or a stranger breaking in? Did they hear glass shattering of a window or a door’s wood breaking when it was kicked in?
Seeing – So much of the story can be based on what is seen or describing a scene in such a way the reader can see it too. Things can be bright, blinding bright, or dark and dim. It is, for me, one of the first descriptors as it puts color to the moment.
Smelling – Smell is said to be the strongest of our senses linked to memories. They can take us to our grandmother’s house because she baked a lot or even to a sad memory of losing someone. For example: After a funeral many bring food to the family that has lost someone. Perhaps in this situation your character cannot stand the smell of pies because they remember losing their mother.
There are all kinds of scents. Sweet, nasty, or something that reminds me of our favorite memories. Apply those to your writing. Did the apple smell delicious or has it rot? You can even mix smelling with feeling and go the route of the air smelt clean and cold. You see? Mixing the senses creates a dynamic surrounding for your character and will add to the world they’re in.
You can even go into how the smell made your character feel. Did the burger joint’s smells make your character hungry or sick because it was overpowering? Use this!
There are more senses, you can learn about them here and here. I recommend this as it can help even further!
What did you think? Did this help? Have anything to add to the list above? Do you want me to do more examples? Perhaps show these tips in action?