7 Story writing tips to keep the reader engaged
Writing a good story is always a tedious task. There are doubts about what relevant information to include, which parts to omit, and how to flesh out the characters. The main goal of writing a story is to keep the reader engrossed, and with these following tips you can carve out a story that will help you achieve that goal.
Have a strong start
Make sure your first sentence is captivating and engaging and makes people want to read the next. The ‘once upon a time’ structure eventually becomes redundant, unless you have a fascinating plotline which unravels without much delay. If you start with a potential cliffhanger or an outrageous incident, then the reader has no choice but to turn the page. The more ambiguity you incorporate, the more engaged the reader is.
Moreover, don’t start with a long introduction or detailed descriptions, unless the information is crucial in the understanding of the plot or leads up to a plot twist. You can also go for unconventional endings, with no concrete answers. This allows the reader to draw their own interpretations, making them feel involved.
Don’t overwork your explanations
Describing a character’s appearance and attire in too much detail, especially in the beginning, often puts off the reader. These details should be brief yet informative, especially if physical appearances and environments are relevant in the understanding of the character or the plot. Similarly, when resolving an issue in the story, don’t justify the conclusions too much and let the reader interpret them on their own so that they can connect to the story more personally. How you write is as important as what you write. Aim to focus on the psyche of the character by describing their anxiety or restlessness to convey the magnitude of the impact of a situation in the story.
Avoid piling on too many names at once
If your first chapter is just a repository of names, the reader might lose interest or find it difficult to keep up, or both. Instead of introducing too many important characters in one page, give the reader some time to register the information by strategically presenting different personas in the story. Introducing your characters gradually and giving each of them a distinguishable trait gives you more room for their development later in the story.
Don’t overdo the verbiage
Adding a few poetic elements at crucial points while writing prose enhance your narrative style but inserting them unnecessarily might make the story seem lousy and redundant. The reader likes to keep moving rather than dwelling on the same situation for too long, which is why verbiage should be used only when it’s needed. For example, poetic features can be used while describing an introspective episode or a character’s perception of their surroundings during a significant incident. Otherwise, using a relatively less flowery language and including more content and a strong plot in your writing is more helpful.
Be involved in your writing
It is important to believe in what you write to make the reader do the same. Attempt to base your characters on real people and carve their journeys so. Relate your characters’ feelings and worldviews to your own and be personally connected to their world to make the reader empathize with them. Being involved in the story as an author makes the fictional experiences seem closer to reality and thus more relatable. The more passionate you are about your writing, the more engaged the reader would be.
Include the reader
Narrate the story as you would to a friend, so that they feel a part of the narrative. They should have room for their own interpretations rather than meanings being handed to them by the author. Making your character go against their principles every once in a while humanizes them, and intrigues the reader more about their subjectivity. Avoid mundane moments and make sure the reader’s curiosity does not die out at any point in the story by including interesting elements throughout.
Edit, edit, edit!
Editing is one of the most crucial steps of the process of writing a story. Do not be afraid of deleting lines or even entire paragraphs from your story if they seem unnecessary or unimportant. Prioritize quality over quantity. Reading and rereading your writing and editing a little bit each time will make it both concise and descriptive. Editing should be given as much time and effort as writing in the process.
Apart from these tips, make sure you are happy with what you write and have fun during the process.