The Instant Magical Formula For A Great story

Here's the magical formula for an awesome story made real simple:

A story is...
An interesting, intriguing, realistic and relatable character lives in a interesting, intriguing world,
with a goal,
enters a new world,
faces obstacles,
fights against a destructive force or antagonist that stands in the way of their goal,
and after struggling, struggling some more and nearly failing,


1. Begin with the story, not with the information.
I've stressed this in the Story Openings Worksheet, but it's too important not to include here too. Starting your novel in the right place is what makes your hook possible. Without a hook, a possible reader will put your book down and never pick it up again. Opening a novel in the wrong place is one of the most detrimental mistakes you can make and one of the best ways to bore a reader.

We don't want to hear about the creation of the world or your main character's grandparents. Start with the story, not the backstory, not with description, not with info dumps. The main rule of a good beginning is to start late, and to craft a successful ending, you leave early. Don't tell too much and leave out the unnecessary. It's just that. Unnecessary.

2. Give your protagonist an objective and a goal.
What does she or he want to accomplish over anything else? What do they need? What is the one thing they'd cry for, lie for, kill for? What makes it so important to them? Without a main character with a goal, there is no story.

3. The protagonist's objective needs to be difficult to accomplish.
Raise the stakes and place obstacles in their way. If it's easy to get to the end, the story is pointless. The harder it is, the better the story is. Create a force that works against your heroes. It has to be something that has the power to destroy all of their dreams and crash their plans, making the goal nearly impossible. The difficulties grow bigger as the story progresses until we reach the last battle, aka the story's climax. The struggle before the final win makes the it much more satisfying and creates story endings readers can't forget.

4. Keep the focus on the protagonist.
If your attention wanders, so will your reader's. You want your reader to stay focused on and interested in the main character's story. So keep yourself interested. If you don't love your protagonist, neither will anyone else.

5. Skip the parts readers skip.
This is related to number 4, but has more to do with prose and plot. Too write a good, cohesive plot that is not too tight nor too fluffy, you need to know about story structure. If you haven't already studied common story structure types (there are lots of videos on YouTube and articles on screenwriting and book blogs about it), you need to--even if you're a pantser or don't believe in story structure.

You can read about it and then decide whether to use the advice or not. The best thing I ever did for my novel Poison Fire was to study different structures and make a new outline that followed the 15 beat plot structure

Don't write dialogue, description or even action sequences that bore you. If you don't enjoy writing it, try it again later. And if you still find yourself agonizing over it, write something else. Because if you hate writing it,  it'll probably bore your reader to death too.

The rule: Write nothing your writer will skip.

6. Don't stop telling the story.
Too many beginner writers write entire chapters of back story or information about the world of their story and wonder why readers stop reading. The backstories and descriptive information they've written is so interesting to the authors themselves, that often they don't see how it could be boring.

And I get it (because I was there, and I was probably the worst of all), you've made up all this cool information about your characters and they have such interesting stories to tell about their lives and don't even get me started on fantasy worlds. I do love a intriguing, realistic fantasy world. But many pages of info dumps won't intrigue anyone (except maybe geography or history teachers). It's boring because it's not the story.

Don't ever stop telling your story in order to deliver information to the reader. We've all heard the rule "Show, don't tell", and that is because it's a life saver. No, story saver. It literally will save your story. If you show well, you won't need to info dump.

Just think about the real people in your life. We all have pasts, but we don't need to  talk about them constantly, because usually our past experiences can be seen in our present actions. 

Deliver every piece of information in a way that keeps the story going, because if you've done everything else right, there will be plenty of reasons for the reader to keep reading. Don't ruin a good story by pausing it mid-action.

I hope these tips and "rules" will help you and have given you thoughts on how to make your story into something awesome and incredible.

Read my blog post on the 10 tips every writer needs to hear and learn from!

Happy writing!

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