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Tips not rules. Try them out and see if they work for your writing.


Strong verbs make gripping stories.

Check your writing for all instances of the verb 'to be' e.g. was is are am.... and swop these for better verbs to show your characters doing stuff. Verbs make your characters active - verbs are doing words after all and characters doing stuff is always a lot more interesting than them just being. It is the  ACTION of your story.


Use all 5 senses.

Physically, what is like to be that character in that moment of your story? What can they touch, what is touching them, what do they see, what can they hear, smell and or taste? Choose the sense that's on top for that character in that moment. For example they're in the mosh pit at Glastonbury, somebody loud is on stage, but it's 30º and the person standing next to your character hasn't had shower in 5 days...

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Newton's Third Law of Motion says ...

 ...that 'to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction', which also works for fiction. When something happens in your story how do your characters react?  They might not react at all, which in itself is a reaction - e.g.freezing at the news of a sudden death? But they will react in a way that is appropriate for what has just happened and their own character. Newtons third law of motion is not just for characters (though they are your most important story ingredient!) but  for every  story event – something happens - what happens as a result?

Details bring the scene into focus.

A dense forest – you can't see the wood for the trees. Make a single leaf fall ... Details give the reader a focus and bring the scene alive. 

DON'T describe what isn't.
Describe WHAT IS.

So if the action's happening on a dull day don't say the sun isn't shining, say something else about the sky or the effect of the weather on your character, or forget the weather entirely unless it has significance for your story's theme or plot. It's much easier to imagine what is than what isn't.

Get into character and write from there.

 Become your point of view character and write from there. Wear their hat! See the world through their eyes; experience it through their senses. Understand their limitations. As a reader I like to know which character I'm with, so a slipping point of view confuses me and takes me out of the story. For instance, something's  happening on the other side of a closed windowless door to your point of view  character. They might hear it, they might imagine it but they can't see it. Unless they're looking through a keyhole of course  but that has it's own limitations.

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