Tag Archives: development

Mini-Series Part 4: Audience

First, I would like to apologize for my lack of posts the past few weeks – life had had a strong hold on me and I had no hope of escape.

Second, welcome to the last segment in my mini-series on building a story: audience!

Previously I had talked about character, setting, and content development, but today I’m going to talk about audience and the importance of writing for your audience. I have personally gained the knowledge about writing for audience in various classes I’ve taken here at my university, so it would be near impossible to cite any and all sources I’ve come across over the years.

Anyway, audience is probably the most important aspect of writing a story besides the actual writing portion of it! Why? Well, you want to be able to tailor your story to a certain audience before you decide to get it published – if you get it published.

Do you want to write for children or teens? Fiction or fantasy? Biographical or historical? There are many, many genres of writing out there and each story is tailored specifically to that genre. So before you think about writing your story in its entirety, try to think about who you want to write it for: who your target audience is.

Here’s a few tips I’ve gained over the years:

Don’t think vague; get specific! You don’t want to think too broadly on this one. Yes, some stories can span a multitude of genres, but think about the specific audience you want to write for: college students? Children between the ages of 8 and 12? Adults who like specifically romance?

Don’t expect to please everyone. Seriously, don’t get your hopes up. There is always going to be someone who isn’t happy with what you’ve written, but that doesn’t mean you should give up trying your best at what you’ve got! In fact, it should encourage you to try even harder!

Research other novels, authors, publishers, etc. before you get too far into your story. If you get an idea for how people are writing and what publishers are looking for you’ll be able to tailor your story even further to better suit the needs of who you want to publish with.

Ask family and/or friends who are around the age or group you are looking to write for to read what you’ve written and how you can make changes. Your family may try to be nice in saying your story is good, but if you know that something’s lacking you should stick your foot down and ask for any and all honest opinions and critiques. It is better to get a sense of whether or not your story is working for the audience you were initially writing for or not from someone who cares about you before giving it to someone who might just toss it out upon first glance.

Though these are just a few examples of why you should consider your audience for your story. It will help to make your story that much better and you’ll be able to put more into the story than not.

There are plenty of resources out there for you to consider when writing a story, but just try to also come up with your own as you go. You’ll get the hang of it as you go. You can use these tips for both story writing and blog writing.

Blog writing and story writing are two different things, though, so though I didn’t focus on blog writing this time around I will do my best to do a future mini-series that is dedicated to blog writing.

I hope you enjoyed my first mini-series. I still have a lot more to learn when it comes to doing these kinds of things (mini-series and advice giving), but I hope that I’ve done just that in my mini-series!

If any of you has any advice or tips for me on how you write a story or blogging or anything, leave a comment!

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Mini-Series Part 3: Developing Content

Placing characters into your setting is the first step of creating the content of your story. But what about the content of the story? You know, the stuff that makes up the meat of it? How do you form that around the characters and the setting you’ve chosen to write about?

Take out a scrap paper or open a new document, but also open the document you put your initial idea about what you wanted to write about on. If you’ve chosen to write about a teenage girl who ends up at an asylum because she hears voices, but she’s really seeing the ghosts of her ancestors, or if you’re writing about an alien planet where you characters have supernatural powers, then start there.

I’ll use the asylum idea as my example for the upcoming tips and advice I’m about to give.

  • Start with a scenario. What’s the main idea of the story? For my example, the girl who is essentially a medium tells her parents about the occurrences and she is thought to be crazy, so she is sent to an asylum.
  • Begin at the end! Sometimes starting at the beginning is more challenging than starting at the end. Think of how you want your character(s) to end up and how you want your plot to end. Will the girl escape the asylum? Will the bad guy get what’s coming to him? Or are you going to have a cliffhanger and make a series out of it?
  • Don’t write the climax too soon. The climax of the story is the “big bang” that happens usually toward the end of the middle half of the book. For my example, the climax could possibly be when the girl in the asylum discovers that the person she had been sharing a room with is actually dead, but she’s been controlling everything around her. What does the main character do? Does she run for help or does she find another means to the end? Or does the person she discovers to be dead help to plan her escape? The climax is typically the most interesting part, so don’t write it too soon in your story!
  • Write the beginning as if you, yourself, were the main character. Typically writing a story is from your perspective through your character, but instead place yourself in your character’s shoes. Take a moment to close your eyes an imagine yourself as the girl with the ability to see and talk to the dead. Imagine the fear she must have of telling her parents, imagine the scenario of telling them and being called a freak. Imagine what happens when she is rolling up to the entrance of the asylum in her parents’ car and how the nurse and doctors are both in white. Think about everything your character is going through and write it down. You might not use all of it, but you’ll get the idea as to how it should begin.
  • Don’t write “filler.” Filler is not fun, not engaging, nor interesting. Filler is just to get something more out of the story, but nothing is really going on. You can write for pages about how white the walls of the asylum are and how white the floor is and how white the hair on the old lady sitting in the corner is. But it’s not interesting, it’s not filler. Don’t get me wrong, you can mention these things, but don’t go on for pages and pages about it. Always have something going on that can further engage your story.

So we have the bones, the blood, and now we have the vital organs of a story. The content is what makes the story, well, a story! It can turn a one page paper into a novel and it can turn an idea into something great. Without the content of the story, you really have nothing. Take the time to think about how you want to write this story and how you want to connect your plot together while placing the characters into the plot.

You’re well on your way to having a completed story! If you haven’t already, just continue to write about what is going on in your story and try to complete it within a year’s time. Yes, it takes time, and when you do finish just remember to breathe and pat yourself on the back for completing such a fete.

But there’s just one thing I want and need to cover: audience. It’s an important aspect to writing a story and is probably the most important aspect of story writing next to actually writing the story itself. So tune in next time for the last part of my mini-series on development!

Mini-Series Part 2: Setting Development

The sky allowed only a few rays to break through, casting a glow on the pavement ahead. The road stretched on for what seemed like forever, disappearing over the hills to unknown lands. The car’s radio was playing the typical things, pop music, country, and whatever else she felt like listening to. All she knew was that her hometown sucked and she needed a new place to go.

Welcome to part two of four of my mini-series for creating stories! Tonight I’m going to talk about setting and how you can include the characters you made from the advice I gave last time into your new setting.

Okay, so you have your character and you know him/her inside and out. Great! Now where do you place them?

There’s many different settings you can place a character, whether it be in the realm of fantasy or reality is up to you, though. If you plan on writing a story of fiction, placing them in the realm of reality – a familiar place – is something to think about because writing from experience is actually something that I have often read about as advice when writing a story.

If you decide to write in a realm of fantasy, be sure to keep in mind the climate, the culture, the flora and fauna that belong to that world, and more. Think about your favorite sci-fi movie or novel and how the directors and producers (and the rest) made the world come to life. You obviously don’t have to include every single little detail in your own story, but writing down everything in a separate log will help you to remember just what is included in the world you’re creating.

If you create from reality, be sure to also know the same types of things that you would have to know for a fantasy world – culture, food, flora and fauna, etc. For a beginner, you might want to consider writing in reality because it might be easier to write from what you know.

When creating a setting, there are a few things to consider:

  • Keep it within a small range. Unless you’re writing a story about pirates (which you should do research on, if you are), try to keep the location of your story down between one to three areas. You don’t want to over-complicate things by making your character go from Boston to Cairo, Egypt to Manhattan all within the same chapter – unless it’s relevant.
  • Write down everything. You’re going to want to write down everything you can think of about the setting you’re placing your character, from their home to their room to their car (if they have one) to the outside world. Do they have a magazine collection? What does their car look like, smell like? Has he/she ever been to the other side of the state? Write it down!
  • Show what your setting looks like, don’t tell us what it looks like. Instead of saying that there was a “red house with white shutters and a white porch,” show us what it looks like, for example, “The house was dull from years of rain and whether, the red paint chipping away onto the clean porch.” It’s okay to not tell us the color of every little thing that’s in the setting – give us what we need, but show us, don’t tell us.
  • How does the character act in this setting? Take your main character and place them in the setting you’re thinking of. Do they fit in? How do they feel when they’re there? Are there a lot of memories for them there? Do they associate some event with the location? Write it down and incorporate it into your story if you like.

Though these are just a few tips, there are always hundreds of thousands of resources you can find out there on the Internet and in libraries and bookstores. But for the sake of my mini-series, try to utilize the tips and start jotting ideas down for your story.

If the characters are the backbone of a story, then the setting is the blood of the story. It provides the story with filler and it gives the character a place to live and grow. Without a setting, all you have is a character, and where can you go with just a character without having some sort of setting?

Take the time to plan out your setting, from sky to grass, from mountain to sea, from house to skyscraper, but sure to include every detail that you can about your setting. Placing your character(s) there and making them feel at home will be its own project, but as long as you mold the setting around your character, they should fit together nicely!

Next time I’ll be talking about the content of the story, a.k.a. the body of the story. I’ll provide some tips on how to start and finish the story, and how to not lose the climax of it.

Optional: Tell me your new setting and how you came to the conclusion for it!

Mini-Series Part 1: Character Development

Characters are the heart and soul of your writing piece. Not only do they take on a life of their own, but they also bring the story’s environment, nature, and more to life. They can make you smile, laugh, cry, rage, and throw your cat across the room. They are powerful and they’re all from your own mind.

In the first part of this four part mini-series, I will be discussing what characters are, how to make them, and why they are so important to your story.

Well, for starters, why are characters so important to your writing? Without characters in a story, there really is no story. It’s just a bunch of happenings and goings-on that are taking place for no reason whatsoever. That’s a boring story, to say the least.

Also, readers want to be able to grasp the concept of what is going on in the surrounding area: why someone is reacting a certain way, what smells weird, and more.

Without characters, you don’t have a story. So, let’s take a look at how to start developing a character:

  • Think of personality. Personality is what makes the character unique and separates the main character from the supporting and background characters. It can make a character a protagonist or an antagonist, and it can also make the reader either cheer for that character in dire situations, or cheer for another who is more tragic or epic in some way. *Warning! Watch our for Mary Sues and Gary Sues! You don’t want a cliche character – those are boring!
  • Physical appearance. Yes, even though your character is just words on a page, they still need to look like a person (or a monster or alien or what have you, depending on the genre you’re writing for)! Try starting out by jotting down simple physical appearance details: eye color, hair color and length, skin color, male or female, etc. Then go back and start filling in smaller details: does he/she have freckles, an elongated nose, a broken wrist, etc.
  • Likes and Dislikes, we all have them. So should your character if you want to make them believable. Give them an insatiable desire for chocolate, or a hatred for the color green. Anything! List them out for your own reference – your reader will be able to discern their likes and dislikes through the story itself.
  • A back story is just the beginning. A character needs to have some sort of back story or history to know who they are, where they came from, who raised them, etc. Make it tragic or make it happy, it’s up to you.

You can use these few simple tips for creating any kind of character, no matter if they’re the hero or the villain, the supporting or background character. Each tip will apply to each character, so take the time to write them out for each character.

Characters are the backbone of your story. They help to create the world around them through their language, their appearance, their likes and dislikes, and more. Without them, you’d be up the creak with no paddle. If you take them away you lose the backbone to your story and it would just fall apart, and that might make it difficult to salvage.

So take the time to write out your character’s, well, everything! You should know your characters inside and out before you get going anywhere with them. Yes, sometimes it works out before you get to really know your character, but unless you start with the basics you aren’t going to have a clue as to where your story is going and it might turn into a mess.

Of course characters are just one of the many important factors in creating a story. Next time I’ll be discussing setting development and how to place those characters you just created into a setting. Stay tuned!

Optional: Leave comments about characters you have created or are creating and how you went about creating them!