Writing the best stories in English would take more than just a storyline or a plot, or maybe, few characters. Movies, nowadays, provides us plethora of genres to choose and select from—like romance, sci-fi, drama, comedy, horror, adventure, etc., which indeed has multitude of stories to entertain ourselves from. Writing a fresh new piece of a story is really difficult because readers and audiences are so much into reading books and movies these days that most of the storylines and plot scenes have been seen already. However, pinning down a good story—while in this case the ‘best story’, would require more than the base storyline.
When we say stories, we don’t necessarily imagine or take into consideration all—plots, sub plots, themes, characters, motifs, narrations and narrators. All these factors are needed to be on their potential self in order to really churn out the best story. Memories are very essential, I believe, to write a story—if you have experienced it, your story would have gravity to it; if you have really understood it, your story would have charm and insight to it. Even if the fictional characters don’t equate familiar faces in your life, it would still feel real and grounded, and this quality makes a story authentic and believable.
It doesn’t really matter how much time or length it takes to write a story, the ‘best story’, specially. All it takes is passion for storytelling—making sure your memories have come back to life, and somehow your experiences has revived out of it, telling you again that stories like these are in fact real, although, it might not be a common place and time occurrence to most of the readers or people in general.
But, that is the fun of reading stories, isn’t it?—to transcend into another state of being and existence; to live another life—to breathe in the air, conscience, mentality, and pleasures and fears of someone that is not you. Someone, you would become to experience things beyond the confines of your realm.
Well a ‘best story’ in English could be written ways more than I could think of, one thing certain of all—the structure is true to its core; the ivory bone of the story. Elements and factors like plot and themes and characters—all if put together with conviction can make the most unbelievable story come to life. Without any further ado, I would like to mention 10 simple steps to get the stones rolling . . .
1. Jot a Storyline:
Think of a story that relates to similar experiences in your life or others around you. The story does not have to be real or unreal to be the best story. It needs to have the capacity to pull people’s attention, something they have not thought of; something that can bring interest in them a lot; something too interesting. Make sure you have put an interesting conflict in the story, because stronger the conflict, better the ending and whole story built-up.
2. Pen Down A Plot:
Write down an interesting plot by using the suspense factor into it. Suspense is the key to curiosity in stories as well as in real life. If you can manage to do that, you plot will become stronger. Make sure you keep no loose ends, no leaves unturned.
3. Build Characters:
Characters are the soul of the story, they are the life. They sing and dance, and jump and prance, they laugh and cry—they bring the essence of human into the story—this makes it relatable, which is important to make the readers interested in your story.
4. Theme is a must:
Make sure you have taken enough time out to understand the constant meaning of the story that lingers in the air and wind of the story—in the very breathing of it all. It could be about loss, post-colonialism, feminism, dualism, hypocrisy, and so much more. Knowing the theme helps you not distract away from it while writing the story in the flow.
5. Read Stories:
Reading is the fuel that runs the process of writing…it is true. The more you read, the better you write and think. Read on a daily basis – short story writers like J.D. Salinger, Raymond Carver, F.ScottFitzerald, George Saunders, Alice Munro, and more—as it will ignite your mind with knowledge, imagination and insight. It will make you write and become a better writer—that is the kind of skills you would learn from these literary masters.
6. Read Other Genres:
Reading other genres broadens up your horizon. It provides you more plot types and styles of writing. Read at least a few of most of the genres like sci-fi, fantasy, literary, romantic, and more—this will give you more understanding on the different ways in which stories can be bent, and how different genre stories come into play.
7. What’s your audience:
Your readers would be different the readers of other writers, you need to know that—so that you stop dreaming about conquering the whole world and all that kind of crap. Stick to your reader demographic, understand them well, and contemplate on what they would like to read more in the dame genre. If you write horror only, don’t willy-nilly start writing kid’s story.
8. Build A Schedule:
You will need to build a routine to write your stories regularly. You cannot wait for the inspiration to hit your floor. You need to buckle up, make a deadline and jot every thought on the paper. Early morning, noon, late night—all worked differently and suitably for Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemmingway, Alice Munro, James Joyce, Kafka, etc. All great writers had schedules. Stick to what you are comfortable, but don’t forget to write. That’s it!
9. Keep Writing:
Write every day without any fail. The only to start writing is to start writing in the first place. There is no other way to do so. You could wait for another year or season, or you could start writing it immediately. It all depends on you. The more you write, the better you would be able to shape and build stories.
10. Grow a passion for storytelling:
If you grow a passion for storytelling, you would read out more stories and share incidents with strangers, which will put you into a conversation mode, and this will in turn help you fetch out more life experiences of others. This will provide with you more material and day to day inside stories of the people around you—and they would be fresh and unique in its own sense.
Lastly, enjoy reading English short stories and read them all, again and again, don’t stop until the tsunami of imageries, scenes, and characters starts pumping and emerging relentlessly out of you … in which case you need to get it all out on paper. First write, then edit; follow this way of things for a while and things will all fall in place for you.
Stories by Bibhu Datta Rout