What makes a good story? (pt.1)

WRITING ITSELF

I believe you can write about anything if you write in an interesting way. What is interesting to me might not be interesting to you but the idea is to make it “flow” so that the reader will want to keep on reading—whether you do this by being playful with language, or the structure or via the story (but even the best story will be cancelled out if the writing is not great).

I cannot teach how to write (interestingly or otherwise) but here is something to get you started:

  • Great opening line: Start with a good “hook.” That means an anecdote, a piece of dialogue, something that will make the reader want to keep reading.

“One day I find a baggie of cocaine…

Okay, so that’s a scene that hopefully will make the reader continue reading. I usually just visualize that kind of thing and describe it as if I were watching it on a movie screen but with added commentary, like those DVD specials where the director goes on about the scenes as they play out. Visualizing it also helps to “detach” from it all if it’s emotionally painful. I’m just watching a movie. (Having said that, I sometimes find it impossible to read some of my more personal writing…)

  • Next, you can explain the “thesis” of your story (the theme):

“But I’m not a cocaine addict…”

I usually write in present tense because I like the immediacy of that, I like how present tense pushes the story forward and how it puts the reader right in the story, as if the reader was right there with me reliving what I write about. There’s nothing with writing in the past-tense. It’s a personal preference. Find out what works for you and use other memoirs as guides.

(Photo by Nong Vang on Unsplash)

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