At the time of writing this article I have written close to three-hundred stories. Writing a short story every day can me straining for even the most imaginative mind. However, after all this time I have developed my own techniques to make the challenge fun, filled with variety and improving my writing with each passing day. These are the techniques I am going to share with you!
1.Dabble with Different Genres
Over the past year I have written almost every genre with my short stories. I began with simple stories, fantasy, action, adventure and such. These were the types of stories that I was familiar with, what my first novel was filled with.
However, even the most beloved genres grow boring if you work with them every day. I then began to test myself with variety. Taking small steps, moving into genres such as horror, suspense and science fiction. These genres didn’t take at first, but I still pushed for variety.
Comedy, romance and more followed. It was developing my skills, but not at such a great pace. However, by dabbling with these different genres, I soon found myself with tens of stories before I returned to writing something I’m more comfortable with.
How it Made Me a Better Writer:
I can tell you with confidence that writing these different genres opened my eyes to the possibilities. The amount of depth in the genres I truly enjoyed grew to a phenomenal amount because I approached the stories with a more open and aware mind.
To say it only affected my short stories would be a lie. When my interest grew in these different genres, so did my desire to improve my skills for writing them. It pushed me to do research into what makes the genre so popular, at least compared to my favourite genres.
My writing improved with these genres with this self-education, my short stories became easier to write and even better, my novels became something truly special and unique. I made sure to give each and every character more attention, making them more rounded as I realized there is more that influences a character than the here-and-now of the story.
2.Surprise Yourself, Write a Twist
Experimenting with different genres got me far and it developed my writing. However, it is so easy to want more. I was starving for something different, something spontaneous to keep even my mind guess what would happen next. Thus, I decided to tackle any boredom head-on with a twist.
If I found my stories going a direction too predictable or perhaps the story isn’t interesting enough to let me finish it happily, I pop in a twist. Sometimes comedic, sometimes horrific. Whatever I decide, the story must finish while there is still a smile on my face.
These twist endings sometimes surprised even myself. An idea pops in my head, I write it down and I pause, wondering where to go from there. It was a great way to test the imagination, but more so than that, test my skill as a writer. Even if the story comes out ridiculous, it has to have some structure.
How this Made Me a Better Writer:
Going into the story with a sense of knowing what will happen is great in some instances, but being so predictable is not. The thought of a reader being bored reading a story is nowhere near as sad as the thought of me being bored writing it.
After all, I believe all writers need to approach their work a smile on their face, happy to write. If it isn’t something you enjoy, then it isn’t something worth doing. Same goes for writing, so whenever I find myself not enjoying what I write, I either scrap it or I take it down a road far more enjoyable.
It keeps the quality up and makes the experience fulfilling.
3.Keep Track of Interesting Thoughts
As much as I would like to say an idea jumps into my head every morning and I simply jump in-front of the computer to write it out...I don’t. It happens often enough, but there are days where I am stumped or lacking motivation. However, to keep the challenge alive, I keep thinking.
I might pass time listening to music, browsing videos or simple continue with one of my novels. However, when an idea crosses my mind, I strike. Every writer has a small burst of inspiration now and then, but hardly notice it.
Inspiration isn’t something that hits you now and then, it is an opportunity you recognise or ignore.
Once I have that idea in hand, I stop whatever I am doing and jump back into writing. Not every idea is going to be a winner, but I still have fun writing them. Aside from that, it soon made me realize that if an idea crosses your mind, write it down. You either use it now or you use it later.
How this Made Me a Better Writer:
Notebooks and Keep. I have a stack of notebooks that I write ideas in, for short stories, articles or novels. These ideas are sometimes easy to remember, other times they slip from the mind so easily. However, you can never tell which idea will be here an hour later.
That’s why it is best you have something to write your ideas in or make use of a phone app, such as Keep, to keep your ideas handy. I believe a lot of great ideas I had came from dreams and nightmares, especially nightmares. However, these memories pass so quickly, but by writing them down I ensure I have something great to write about in the future.
4.Start Vague, Develop as You Go
No idea is dreadfully specific in the beginning, no story planned out in its entirety. No matter how hard you work, when you start writing, the story might flow one direction, it might flow another. If you wish to plan every story out perfectly, you will quickly learn that such stories make for poor writing as well as reading.
A lesson I learned from writing two novels and now it keeps me from falling into the same trap. A short story only needs an idea, a novel needs an idea every chapter. Even then, things are left in the air and not set in stone. I start my short stories with a vague idea in mind and I work towards it.
I place myself in the character's shoes, create conflict whenever I feel it necessary and push forward with a measure of uncertainty. I don’t know where my stories go and that does my writing a world of good. I often write in the first person, which only helps this technique more. Having everything planned out is simple restricting your writing.
How this Improved My Writing:
Writing a story everyday requires so many boxes to be ticked before the story can be a good one. I often have to have some idea or perhaps a title in mind before I begin, at the very least. However, these ideas change and develop as the writing goes, that is something that can’t be helped.
It won’t happen all the time, but it will happen. Instead of forcing my story to go a certain direction, I work with what I have and see where it takes me. Trust me when I say this problem will show in your writing if your force it down a certain path. Some points won’t make sense, some characters will break.
Try to avoid this trap as soon as you can if you plan on writing a novel. Two larger novels were scrapped with this mistake in mind. Establish a skeleton of a story, or core of a short story, then work from there. A story will change and develop as you write. With a small measure of control over it, this can be great for your novel, so I encourage it more than restrict it.
5.Let Mood Influence the Story
When I say, ‘Let Mood Influence the Story’, I don’t mean to write a sad sequence because you are feeling down. While this may help you develop some ideas for such a scene, I refer to motivation, excitement for a story. If you are lacking in motivation, you simply don’t write it. While you may feel it necessary to write a certain scene in your novel or story, it isn’t a great idea if you lack the motivation.
It is easy to do so for me writing a short story every day, I often notice some scenes simply don’t work. Re-reading them, I leave important lines that help describe a scene or perhaps better narrate the sequence. Thus, it falls a little flat. With practice, I soon spotted these problems developing, this bad habit which held me back.
How this Made Me a Better Writer:
My mood became a big factor in affection stories, especially stories that were written more from the heart than imagination. Maintaining quality in writing is a difficult task, especially when working with full novels. It is for this reason that having control of my mood and emotions, by either postponing my writing a few hours or by doing something that helps me feel the right emotion, helps me write my stories.
If your writing involves something more professional, such as writing for a business or an article such as this, it is better to approach it neutrally, but energetically. However, if what you are writing is fiction, it requires the right mind-set, the right mood, to get the story flowing from beginning to end.
And There You Have It:
Those were my top five techniques for writing hundreds of stories. Writing is a passion of mine, so I prefer not to approach it lazily, writing without a care. When it came to improving, I analyzed, learnt and developed my writing skills to the point where they are today.
These techniques help me with my day-to-day stories which you can find on my website, thepennedsleuth.com. If you wish to check them out, perhaps use a couple as writing prompts, you are more than welcome to. I hope these techniques help you write your stories or perhaps push past anything holding you back.
Thank you for finishing this article. I had a lot of fun writing it and I hope you truly enjoyed it. There are many things you will learn from the writing experience and the 150 above are only a few.
As a big thank you I would like to offer you something for FREE!
A writing course on how to improve your main character!
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Thank you very much for reading!
Matthew Dewey, Writer & Writing Instructor
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