Today is about writing fast and keeping up quality in the process. For today’s post tricks are ways to make the story keep flowing and techniques are strategies to making the story more satisfying. Here we go: A list of ten.
1. The first trick is personal to me. I snack a lot. I snack compulsively. If I approach writing like I approach food I could easily, easily double my word count. Watching TV? Write something. Listening to a podcast at my computer? Write something. Less than full belly? Eat something. This is one I will be putting into action immediately.
2. Just writing any word is a trick I used as a student in high school. This made me more free. I still don’t usually know how a given sentence will end when I start writing it. A sense of freedom is vital for me in fiction. Perhaps that is why I don’t value story-structure as much as some writers do.
3. Technique: Explore the obvious. Take an event and extrapolate on it. Delve deeper into what you know rather than trying to expand the breadth of knowledge. This works to add words if you need them, but provides a more solid base for characters and worlds. Also, this technique is inspired by the way I entered discussions in a class on Shakespeare back in college, where the professor often asked questions of the class. I would speak up often, but usually I focused on saying something clear rather than something ambitious, so as to make sure I had the right basis for further questions.
4. Technique: Avoid Neutrality. Show your character’s bias and the character will deepen on an intrinsic level. Readers will also get a better feel for the voice of the character. People have opinions. People like to learn what others think, just in general. Show and tell what your characters like and dislike. A biased third-person narrator is where this stops for me, most of the time, though I also lean on that fence a bit with closer points of view.
5. An old pulp fiction trick: Have a guy come through the door with a gun. Classic. Often-repeated. Still very useful. Use when stuck to inject motion into the story and add to the mystery. This can be used metaphorically depending on the genre one is in. A romance novel does not generally have much room for gunmen, but an old flame? Probably.
6. Take things for the main character and then make them worse. This is a core trick of tension-building, but it also adds to momentum in my experience.
7. Reverse the expected result or emotion. This is a simple trick. A villain or monster has been chasing the main character. Then we find out they want to help instead of hurt. A romantic confession might be less than joyful and triumphant, and instead be almost matter-of-fact or even sad. Twist the little things as well as the plot.
8. Check your structure. This is a technique I’m a bit leery about, but later on in a story, especially if you’re stuck near or at the climax, plug your story into the Hollywood formula, or seven-point, or three-act, whatever. Find out what you have yet to do in a structural sense.
9. Create dichotomous pairs. This is a pattern-forming technique, which can make stories more accessible. One character has opposite traits from another. One setting is the metaphorical mirror of a different place. I think this is fun for very heavily-themed stories.
10. Bookending the a story is a self-aware technique. Something from the beginning of the story or chapter comes back at the end and lets the reader know things are done. I like this technique, but I try not to overuse it.
Hope some of those are useful.
Thanks for reading!