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How to Be a Decent Story Writer

Writing a novel can be hard work, sometimes it seems as if all the good ideas have already been taken and creating believable characters is just too hard. If you are ever stuck whilst trying to write not a good, or excellent novel but simple a decent one, you can follow these useful steps. The following steps can be applied to all genres of decent novel writing.


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    Practice writing skills: Writing skills such as simple grammar, spelling, sentence structure and nominalization are all important for those who wish to be decent story writers. It is also important to expand your vocabulary. Do this by keeping a dictionary close by when reading in-case you run into any words you are not familiar with. When ever you have the time, look up synonyms for different words and practice grammar, sentence structure, and other forms of writing skills such as nominalization, descriptive paragraphs, etc. This will help broaden your knowledge of English and you will find your writing more fluent.
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    Create an outline: Before you begin your novel, it is a good idea to have a general idea of the plot. If the plot is unclear you may find clashing ideas later on in the story so be sure to have a good idea of it before you begin. Be sure to stay away from common ideas and try to create your own unique story line. For example, the story line of the rogue sorceress conquering the world is incredibly clich├ęd and over used. Think up your own unique story.
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    Create your characters: Sometimes it can be difficult to think up characters that are believable, and your characters can seem very abstract. If you are finding this is a problem you could always try basing your characters on someone you know in real life; give them a similar personality, similar physical traits, or a similar name. By doing this you will be able to form a clear image of the character in you head. Be sure to ask permission if you plan on basing your character completely on someone you know. Obviously you can write a decent novel about events that actual occurred, such as the novel, A Captain's Story by Richard Phillips or Touching the Void by Joe Simpson. If your decent novel is about something that really happened, you don't have to create characters.
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    Create a location: A novel isn't complete without a scene. Choose where your characters will live; what town, what country, maybe even what world? If you are thinking of writing a fantasy novel it may be difficult to come up with a scene. Open your mind and consider every possibility. It is a good idea to carry a notebook and pen with you wherever you go, as you may see something that inspires a great scene for your novel. If your story is not fantasy / sci-fi, consider using real town names and cities (but be sure to do your research on the town first).
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    Open your mind: Writers block is very common, so if you are experiencing it try to open your mind with other 'artsy' activities, such as painting, reading or drawing. Another good way to clear your mind is by exercising. Activities such as walking, going to the beach, yoga and meditation can really open up your mind, so give them a go. If none of these methods work for you, there are other ways to open your mind. Try the brainstorming method, write down all the words that come to mind until you feel like your mind has 'expanded'.
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    Search for inspiration: Still stuck? Now would be the time to search for inspiration. Inspiration can be found in the smallest things; music, art work, poems, even the night sky. Watch the world around you, there are many potential stories just waiting to happen. To make sure no potential story goes to waste, always carry a small notebook and pen in your bag and write down ideas that arise. Also, consider your dreams as a potential novel. Yes, dreams may be abstract, but they are also stories just waiting to happen!
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    Imagine yourself in the novel. Pretend you are there, inside your story, living the life of your characters. This will give you a sense of how real your story feels. By doing this you can also get a feel of the emotions your characters should be portraying in your novel. Put yourself in the shoes of the character to create real emotions and reactions.
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    Read plenty: If you really want to be a decent novel writer, it would be wise to read decent books. Reading books daily can expand your mind and English capabilities. Readers gain many benefits from reading, as well as new ideological beliefs and an open mind. If you prefer to stick to mainly one particular genre, try to expand your horizons and read many genres. For example, if you only read fantasy novels, try to begin reading a mystery novel. It is always good to approach life with a ready mind that is open to new ideas.
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    Take heed of children: Children have the most amazing imaginations, so if you are ever stuck for ideas listen to what the youngsters have to say. If a child is telling you an anecdote be sure to listen carefully, or if you come across children playing a game observe for a little while, (of course you won't want to come off as 'creepy', remember this is all in good nature). If you have children of your own or if you have younger siblings you can look towards them for inspiration. True, at first some anecdotes told by children can seem far fetched, but when done correctly these anecdotes or 'child games' can turn into a brilliant idea for a story.
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    Practice sentence structure: If you just can't seem to get your sentences to flow try reading other stories and observe how the author has structured their sentences. You can use their sentences or paragraphs as an outline to help you get started.
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    Avoid going over the top: Once you have a good idea you may find yourself getting carried away, when this occurs be sure to read over your writing a few times, you may find some of your ideas have already been used or your idea is just plain boring. If this is the case, don't be disheartened, but persevere. Writing should be an enjoyable experience and you will know you have done a good job once you are feeling content towards your novel.


  • Have friends read it over. A friend or colleague may be able to give you a new insight and help you move past difficult areas.
  • Try to make sure that your characters don't all speak in the exact same way so that they can be distinguishable when they are speaking.


  • When you have many ideas, it is easy to get them jumbled. Try to keep your ideas organised.
  • Do not copy other authors' ideas, this could get you into a spot of trouble (Unless the storyline has been used multiple times, such as a knight saving a princess).
  • Make sure you have a solid understanding of point of view (POV). Be consistent in the view you've chosen. What often is confusing is the difference between Third person omniscient and third person limited. In omniscient the narrator knows what all characters feel and think and the story is told in the narrators voice; never in a characters voice. Third person limited stays with one person only and we can only ever know what that person knows. Study point of view carefully before deciding. These two are only two of several common methods to tell a story. If the point of view is not consistent the story will confuse and annoy the reader and it quickly goes from decent to bad.
  • Do not use common ideas for your story.

Things You'll Need

  • Classic books
  • A dictionary
  • A Thesaurus

Article Info

Categories: Education and Communications | Writing