Tag Archives: writer

How long should my story be?

After finishing your stories, how many times do you find yourself wondering if it’s too long? Perhaps you instead wonder if it might be too short? This is something that bothers a lot of writers and keeps on raising many a doubt. Technically speaking, and in order to be practical, a story should not have more than 30 000 words (or it would most likely be a novel), and in fact, a really long story might make it harder for you to get it published. Actually, ultra-short stories are currently very popular and you’ll find many a magazine where you might be able to publish them.

But the truth remains as such: there is no ideal size for a story. You’re not selling fabric! However, there are some tips you should indeed keep in mind:

1. There is no story without conflict
A story isn’t finished without solving the conflict, so, forget how many pages you’ve already written and focus yourself on these points: contextualize your story, develop your characters, present a conflict and solve/resolve it.
Don’t be afraid to write a short story, that turns out, in the end, to be a very long one. You’ll find the time to improve it, most likely afterwards and cut out all of the stuff that doesn’t really matter, but first, you’ll need to develop it as much as you can in order to make it good.

2. If it is boring as is, it’s too long
Again, forget the number of pages. If the story seems boring, it’s already too much. A good story will make you lose track of time, not have you looking at your watch every two minutes. IF it’s not interesting, put it aside.

3. Too much ‘blablabla’
Never write something just so you can fill a page. Write freely while you’re building the story, but in the end read through it again and evaluate each sentence and idea. Were they necessary? Do they bring something new, important or really beautiful to your narrative? If you think something does, keep it, otherwise cut it out or rid the work of it.

4. Emotional experience
Each reader looks for something different from a story he or she chooses to read, although, if a person chooses to read fiction, it’s likely that they seek some kind of emotional experience. Your story needs to make the readers feel something.

5. Why choose this story among thousands?
Let’s face it: people do not have time to spare these days. Most of us are always running about, so if you want someone to stop and read your story, it must be worth it. Confused? Just read it critically and find out if your ideas, sentences, every single detail of it is good enough for a reader. Think of your story as a sort of reward for your reader, who is tired from another long day at work, and just wants to relax and feel all sorts of emotions.

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Are there too many writers?

Often enough, when I say someone I’m a writer, people just look at me funny. Well, that’s when they are polite… otherwise, they’ll just say something to the tune of “Everyone is a writer nowadays.”, and, if I might ass, when someone says something like that, please, don’t argue, it’s pointless.

So, clearly there are many people who don’t value our work, but the question in the title is about more than that. Are there too many writers? Are there too many books? And, what does that means? Should we stop writing? Should we give up? Are we destined to failure?

If you like to read, you probably already saw how many of these little pieces of art and creativity are exposed in any bookstore. Each of them represents a person, just like me or you, trying to tell their tale and catch the audience’s attention. But again… If there are too many writers, are there too many mechanics? Or teachers? Plumbers? Any other profession, for that matter?

A book is something, especially one of fiction, that people use or resort to in their free time, to escape reality and expand their mind, but there are also TV shows and movies that compete for that privilege. Have you ever listened to someone say that there are way too many movies? So, yes, the competition is indeed hard, but you can fight back.

Should I even try?

When you’re writing a story, you’re competing with thousands of other stories, with books, movies, TV shows, comics… There are so many things out there and so many people creating them, so much talent you have to face, that sometimes it does seem impossible to do it.

Let’s face it: it’s really really hard. So, first off, you’ll need to ask yourself: what if…? What if it’s so hard that it isn’t worth it? What if it isn’t my one true calling? What if I can’t handle the fight? What if everything falls apart and I don’t have a plan B?

My advice would be to have a plan B. And then ask yourself all these questions. No matter the actual answers to them, what really matters is if you think it might still be worth it, then you must go through it.

What can I do to detach myself?

Obviously, there are trending themes that are helpful in order to catch the audience’s attention, but, sometimes this isn’t really the right way to go. Actually, it’s pretty important to write about something you really enjoy. It will be a better work, filled with passion and the people who will read your work, will be able to feel it.

Explore your fears and your strengths. For your first book, it could be pretty interesting for you to create a character in the story that is pretty much like yourself. No matter how good or bad the story turns out to be, you’ll gain from it, getting to know yourself better.

Another important point is the originality. No, I’m not telling you that your plot needs to be unique, you can pick up a common basis and write it in a way that makes it interesting and different. Just find a good conflict and explore it, focus on making your characters feel real and alive and the readers will be interested.

And, last but not least: trust yourself, keep writing, even in bad moments, eventually you’ll get there.

An Artist? Yes, but professional

There was once a time where an artist was that a weird person, who did strange things, especially in seclusion. The incomprehensible one, sometimes drunk, sometimes crazy, but always different, in a way. Well, the meaning of different depends on other people’s eyes, but if you want to be taken seriously, you must be serious and be perceived as such.

Being a writer, or any other kind of artist is hard and you have so much competition (some of which you aren’t even aware of), so you must be professional, polite, respect schedules and above all else, be productive. Just do whatever it is you do, the best you can and then, try to become even better at it.

A professional writer

The way your text is presented is important. If you already had the opportunity of proposing an idea for a book, for example, without the need of having the whole story written down beforehand, you’re a lucky one, so, try to be professional and give it your all, the best you possibly can. Be detailed. Be passionate. Be more than your publisher or manager expects. Always!

Everything matters, the font, the font-size, the photos or imagery if applicable, everything will send a message about how professional you are. Use that in your favor.

Explore possibilities and use your intuition in the first drafts, but remember, these ones are meant just for your eyes. You need something more elaborate, and again, professional, for show, to publishers or editors. Use your ability to analyze and criticize your own work, as much as possible, and polish it the best you can, before sending it out to any publisher.

 

Learn, learn and learn some more

You can be some kind of genius and yet, still not know everything there is to know about a given subject you have interest in. If you were a doctor, you would be learning more things, newer things, all the time, in order to be a better doctor and help more patients. The same rules apply to other professions as well, so why not to a writer? It’s the only true way to becoming a better writer… studying and learning.

Learn a lot about the language you write in. Try to study it and learn as much as you can. Learn how to organize your work and your desk and workspace too. Every single detail can make the difference.

Do not disturb!

A writer usually works from his own home, which makes it difficult for him or her to avoid being interrupted all the time. This is especially true if you have any children, but writing needs concentration and discipline, so you must try to keep your focus.

Negotiate with your family in order to get some time alone, just for writing. No matter how small the amount of time you will have, it’s better than hours upon hours without any focus. Turn off your phone, close your browser and just let the words flow.