8 Ways Your Story Needs to be Tweaked

  1. Your characters need to be more distinct from each other. We all have different personalities out here. We want to identify with one character. If you make us look less-than-unique, we will get bored and decide you don’t understand us.
  2. Your plot needs to be more solidly structured. Cause. And effect. Which is a cause. With an effect. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Ad infinitum. All the way to the end of the line.
  3. Your details need to be more realistic. Did you go there? Take notes? Or did you just try to guess? “I’m pretty sure nuns wear wimples.” “I think guys who box probably sweat a lot.” “Mommy bloggers swear.”
  4. Your dialog needs to be more interesting. “Huh, dude,” “Yeah, dude,” “Uh. . .I’ll think about it,” is not interesting. It’s just realistic. Stop making your dialog so realistic.
  5. Your action needs to be better paced. “She threw the lamp, and it shattered into millions of pieces, reflecting rainbows in the sunlight after the long rain, while she screamed in anger. He picked up the fireplace tongs and ran his hand down them. They would work. He flung his arm up and warded off the attacker in the black mask with the flowing black robe who looked slightly like Uncle Mark, only more robust,” is all colorful enough, but it hardly puts the reader on the edge of their seat.
  6. Your exposition needs to be more profound—if you insist on using it at all. “Life is so sad,” was good enough for Madeleine Bassett, but it’s not good enough for you.
  7. Your language needs to be more accurate. Do you really want to say, “The Christmas packages twinkled their invitation”? Because, unless they’re covered with tinsel, packages don’t twinkle. And inanimate objects are incapable of issuing invitations. Even my cats can’t issue invitations. Be factual and straight-forward.
  8. Your revision needs to be more thorough. Take out every single word that doesn’t absolutely have to be there. Yes, even those. Now your sentences are all short and choppy, aren’t they? So go back and re-create flow without putting those unnecessary words back in.

Hard, isn’t it? This is called writing.

15 thoughts on “8 Ways Your Story Needs to be Tweaked

  1. Marisa Birns says:

    Ah, another number list! 🙂

    And they are all excellent explanations of what to look for when writing. And tweaking.

    Yes, it is hard. But so is not writing, eh?

  2. Lady Glamis says:

    Hahah. Yes, writing is hard!

    I like this list and your examples, especially the example with the action. I’m still cracking up. 🙂

  3. Paul says:

    A great list for writing and rewriting. Thanks!

  4. Jeffrey Russell says:

    All this talk of being profound confounds me. My inspiration has abandoned me. Where is it? Maybe it’s in the Lost and Found. I’ll look there. Or I can find a foundry and forge a new one. Or look through history for inspiration. Maybe from the Founding Fathers? It’s all so confounding. What’s a poor writer to do?

    I’m going for a walk. Maybe I’ll find something profound out there.

  5. Kathryn says:

    It’s killing me!

    But the list helps.

  6. Glynis Smy says:

    Useful information. And yes, it is hard, but fun at the same time.

    Number four is of interest to me. I have been told to make my dialogue realistic, then not realistic and so on. It is good to read it from someone in the know, thanks.

    Happy Scribbling.

  7. jc says:

    Well you need to get to know and understand your cats a lot more: they do send invitations believe me….

    anyway good sum up, painful at times.

  8. Avery Oslo says:

    I live for the day packages twinkle and issue invitations, truly I do.

    A great list, thanks for sharing.

  9. Victoria says:

    Now you guys are cracking me up.

    Wow, jc, do my cats want to make friends with YOU.

    And I have a great image of Avery sitting around day after day. . .”When are they going to twinkle invitations at me? When? Was it something I said?”

  10. Victoria says:

    Glynis, do you want me to address your point on the advice column? Because it’s a really important point that, I’m guessing, every single writer out there struggles with, all the time.

  11. Victoria says:

    You’re absolutely right, Marisa. It is truly about tackling life and hugging it like five-year-olds. Not writing is harder.

  12. Victoria says:

    Lady Glamis, someday I’m going to sponsor a writing event where we start out with certain characters with certain names and we each write a paragraph about them off the top of our heads. It’ll be like those drawings you do with friends where you fold the paper so you can’t see what drawing you’re adding onto.

    We will entertain each other endlessly.

  13. Victoria says:

    You’re welcome, Paul & Kathryn! Because you know, Kathryn, you keep saying it’s killing you, but I notice you’re still here. There’s more of Mirren in you than you think there is.

  14. Victoria says:

    Jeffrey, you’re too hilarious. We had a friend come over one day, talking about a book he was reading on Benjamin Franklin, and he said in all seriousness, “He’s my favorite Founding Father.”

    Maybe you should ask Ben.

  15. Melissa says:

    Thanks for this — it’s great!

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