Enter our writing challenge to win a literary assessment
Our challenge for December and January involves a monkey wrench, a fit of depression and a first edition of Bleak House.
Combine all three as cunningly and naturally as possible in a story of 250 words long. The deadline is midnight on 31 January. Paste your entry into the body of an email and send to email@example.com.
The winner will receive an All About Writing literary assessment of a piece of writing of up to 1500 words long. We’ll give you practical suggestions on how to improve a piece, looking at structure, characterisation, story and point of view.
Seven tips for writing good story
Story, according to the Oxford Dictionary, is an account of imaginary or real people and events told for entertainment.
Here are some tips on what to do in order to attract people to your story (no matter how short it is) – and to beguile them too:
1. Begin with an intriguing or a dramatic or a suspenseful introduction.
2. Make sure your story has an unknown outcome, so it feeds our natural curiosity. What comes next? is a universal human response to story.
3. Build your story around a problem and its solution. Every story is the story, in some sense, of a problem that the protagonist faces, and that, after he or she faces down various difficulties, he or she solves.
4. Include a recognition and identification factor. Some of the most intriguing stories take place in an environment with which we are familiar (marriages, relationships, friendships, workplaces). If we recognize the nature of the problems and challenges characters face we’ll appreciate solutions. We are interested in their choices because they confirm or challenge our own choices.
5. Create interesting characters (whether fiction or non-fiction) that face challenging problems which they have to solve. This provokes an emotional response in the reader.
6. Let your characters struggle with the emotional challenges that they face. That’ll ensure that the reader will identify with them and engage with your story.
7. Create a strong and satisfying ending. An old fashioned love story ended at the bedroom door – because all the difficulties in the relationship had been solved by then, and all that remained was bliss – which for third parties is boring. Steve Jobs story ends with the tale told of him on his deathbed saying a single word over and over that somehow captured the essence of the man: “Wow… wow… wow…” That’s a resolution that’s hard to beat.
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