Rules of Writing a Story

Most of us were introduced to the world of literature with short stories, fables to be exact. Slowly, longer storybooks and novels became a part of life. Without realizing it, we reached the stage where we would finish even a thick novel within days. How do authors write such compelling stories? It is all the magic of a beautifully crafted story and a sign of the author’s writing intellect.

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A good story is easy to read but quite difficult to write. The process of writing good fiction is beyond just a good storyline or a crazy turn of events. Even a simple storyline can be interesting if written well. If you have always dreamed of writing stories that are truly captivating and highly engaging, follow these simple rules to master the craft:

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Map the plot in advance:

Maybe some gifted or experienced writers can write intuitively, but as a rule of thumb, you must always map your plot on a narrative arc. Think of the setting, characters, conflict, climax and finale before starting to write. Think of a strong enough conflict because not many would want to read a narration of regular events. The stronger the conflict, the higher is the reader engagement.

Map your characters:

You must also map your characters and their traits before you begin writing the story. Give your protagonist some motivation and a relatable flaw. These will maintain a natural and realistic flow. Also, try to give your main characters some likeable traits. This will set them apart from the rest and invoke the reader’s liking towards them. Once a reader starts to empathise with a character, they are drawn to keep on reading.

Show, don’t tell:

This is probably one of the most popular principles of story writing. You would not want to bore your readers with lengthy narrations of what happened after what. Rather, let the scene unfold before them through descriptions and dialogues.

Use sensory words and vivid verbs:

What makes good writers stand out is their choice of descriptive words. Narrative writing is all about bringing an imaginary world to life. It is about weaving a life-like image in the minds of your readers, all through your words. Befriending sensory words is one of the easiest ways to improve as a story writer. When describing a haunted house, words like ‘musty’, ‘mouldy’, and ‘damp’ will quickly transport the reader into the scene, where they can almost imagine how the house smells.

Moreover, vivid verbs are a great tool for engaging the reader. Try ‘mumble’, ‘mutter’, ‘groaned’, ‘squealed’, etc. instead of the same old ‘said’. Using vivid verbs change your story writing game in no time!

Use dialogues:

A narration of events that goes on and on can be tiresome to read. Dialogues can bring that much-needed pause from the narration and make the text more readable, visually as well. Apart from that, dialogues are great to make the reading experience almost like watching a movie. Give ample dialogue to your characters as the narrator takes a backseat. It allows the reader to see their true emotions and motivations. The story unfolds in real-time before them. It gives you the creative space to change the tone and the diction to suit the character, and thus maintain variety. Also, this is your chance to throw in some colloquial words or borrow them from a local dialect to give the setting a realistic touch.

Experiment with Point of View:

The point of view is the narrator’s perspective of the events unfolding in the plot. The narrator could be a character in the story, in which case the point of view will be in the first person. Or the narrator could be an objective third person who reports what he witnesses. An omniscient narrator can enter the minds of every character when required and knows everything.

Each style of narration has its own benefits and limitations. You can pick the one that seems the most appropriate for your theme and plot structure. For example, a mystery novel will maintain suspense with a first-person point of view because the motives of other characters are hidden.

Vary the structure of your sentences and paragraphs:

Nothing kills the fun of reading a book worse than a big block of words without a paragraph break. Make sure that there aren’t many unnecessarily long paragraphs in your story. Break them up with dialogues and maintain a variety of short and long paragraphs to avoid monotony.

The same goes for sentence structure. If all your sentences are around the same length and have a similar structure, things can get boring quickly. Mix things up and vary the length of your sentences. Explore different structures, use transition words and do not be afraid of using more than one clause.

Online Writing Class by Ruskin Bond


These rules can effectively transform the story writing game for you. To take a step further, you can take online writing classes and let a professional writer guide you in the right direction. Check our unluclass by Ruskin Bond to fine-tune your story writing skills.

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