Writing Matters


As you can imagine, I read all sorts of different stories on the Fiction Team.

Some have me hooked from the first page. Others take a while to get going, but the storyline gathers momentum and finishes on a high. And sadly, some simply don’t make the grade at all.

So what makes a good Friend story?

Characterisation And Plot

As with all stories, it’s about characters and plot. The aim is to create a sympathetic character which the reader can relate to, and then give your character a goal or goals to achieve. A lot of stories I read feature protagonists with less than desirable traits, which makes me not care about them or their story journey. A character doesn’t have to go on a Jason and the Golden Fleece style quest to make it memorable. But the character should have obstacles to overcome in order to push the story forward.

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

You can create the most colourful characters with the wittiest of dialogue, but you need to put them in positions where they are “tested”. It could be a plot about a woman looking for love. It sounds pleasant enough, but this alone doesn’t constitute a good story. However, if you throw in a series of catastrophic dates before your heroine meets Mr Right, then your character would have had to “work” in order to reach her goal.

Log Lines

A simple exercise to highlight what your story is about is to use the log line challenge. This is a one-sentence summary of your story, defining who the main character is and her motivation to succeed.

Log lines are used a lot in relation to film scripts, but they can be applied to any story plot. Here’s an example: a girl finds herself transported to a magical land, and through a series of adventures she has to search for a way back home to Kansas. Any guesses to what it is?

It can be quite a challenge to sum up your story in one line, but it’s an exercise which highlights the basics of good storytelling.

Enjoy your writing journeys.

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Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one aspiring tip to new writers is to “write from your imagination”.