So I want to focus today’s thought on writing again. This time on how to come up with a good story.
The plot is obviously the most important part of the story because it is the reason why you wrote the whole story. However in my time writing and reading there are certain features that make some stories worthwhile and others something that you kind of drag your feet through waiting for it to pick up.
I experience the second a lot considering the amount of fanfiction I read. Ha. Anyways, let’s get to what makes a good story and what makes a bad one and how to improve.
1. The Characters
One thing that a lot of beginning authors to is create Mary or Gary Sue. For those of you who don’t know what that is, that is a flawless character, someone who could do no wrong and always gets whatever is done in the nick of time. While yeah those characters are fun for the author to write they are very boring to read.
They have no character development and it is impossible to make them grow and change because they don’t struggle. These Mary/Gary Sue can never develop as a person because they have already achieved human perfection so how can they become a better version of themselves? If you’re worried about this then here are some ways to avoid this.
- Write a pro/con list for your character.
If the pros outweigh the cons a lot you may want to even that out. What I personally do when I craft a character I write out a list for the personality traits that I want them to start off with. I generally try to make the personality even with the same amount of bad and good personality traits. That way they are a well balanced character and whenever I need some conflict and character development then I just look at the list again.
- Consider the goals of your characters and put obstacles
Even consider not allowing your character to reach that goal. It is very nice every once in a while to let your character win, but what is more interesting if they fail. Imagine a story when the supposed Chosen One that is supposed to defeat the Dark Lord…doesn’t. What happens to the characters then? How does that affect their relationships? How does that effect their psyche? One of the reasons why Game of Thrones is so successful is because George R.R. Martin denies characters all the time. Robb Stark becoming King of the North, yeah we were all behind him and he seemed to be doing well until the Freys (screw them all all) came and destroyed that dream. Reading about the other character’s reaction to this news is what makes GoT that much more fascinating, because “in the game of thrones, you win or you die.”
While the overall plot is important if you want to make your story much more life like you need to have subplots. People do not go throughout life focusing on one goal. We have other goals and other things that we want to do or obtain so that is something that you as the author can delve into.
- Mention the goals of the main/side characters
Is there a conflict of interest? Is there a love that they are pining over? Is they harboring a secret? Does this character have a disability that they are constantly struggling/adjusting to? These are just some of the ideas that you could play around with when writing. I know that while seeing Batman beat the crap out of Black Mask in Batman: Hush is important but what also is important is Batman working out his feelings for Catwoman (if I’ve never mentioned it before, I really love Batman and Catwoman as a couple).
Subplots are important because they give you the author something else to write about when you get bored of writing about the Big Plot and also give you something else to write about. It also give me something else to read about. Subplots are so super important because:
- They can raise the stakes
Yeah. If subplot B introduces Character C who really needs our Main Character (MC) to win and these subplot continue to grow and make Character D, E, and F dependent of our MC then it opens a whole new subplot into the psyche of our MC and stress. Which is fun for me to read but anything to do with the mind is fun for me because I’m a psych major.
That’s all I could really come out with to help out beginners right now. I coffee alded mind is whirring but my body is telling me to go to sleep. Ha! I’ll think of more things to say in my next thought. But if there is anything thing you think I should address. Drop me a line.