There are two big differences between good stories: stories that flow and stories that don’t. A story that flows is one that is paced well enough that the reader doesn’t feel like the author is spending too much time in one place, and the reader always knows what’s going on and doesn’t get bored. Flow is an extremely hard balance to strike, and all writers struggle with it, but hopefully these tips can help you achieve it a little better in your writing.
Don’t impede your reader.
“Impede” or “impediment” is just a big fancy word for something preventing the reader from moving forward in the story. Some examples of writing impediments are:
Stilted wording. These are words that seem unnatural or that are hard to read or understand, or a style that’s hard to follow. Spelling out a character’s dialect (accent) in their dialogue especially impedes a reader.
Confusion. If the reader is having trouble following the plot, telling the characters apart, and/or understanding the dialogue, they’re going to give up reading. Avoid confusion as much as possible. A story can be complex without being confusing.
Redundant phrases. A phrase is redundant if it feels unnecessarily repeated. For example:
He rolled his eyes and sighed in exasperation.
Instead of repeating what was already obvious, consider these revisions:
He rolled his eyes.
“That’s stupid,” he said in exasperation.
The same message is delivered in much fewer words.
For more information and examples on impeding flow, click on the link to The Editor’s Blog down below. Most of the ideas in this section came from that article.
Constantly keep the story moving.
While you shouldn’t rush your scenes along, you also shouldn’t linger on scenes for too long. If your story has ten-page arguments that could be shortened to a page-and-a-half, your reader will get annoyed and feel that the scene is dragged out. Also, revisiting a previously-closed scene is a definite flow-killer. If a problem or argument has already been resolved, don’t bring it back up unless some new story element has compromised the previous decision. Rehashing scenes to make the story longer or just because you, the author, liked them makes the story feel long and boring.
Don’t get stuck in a rut.
If your writing feels the same throughout, the reader will get bored. Break up your words and scenes with new ways of presenting ideas. Balance edgy, quirky writing with clean sentences. Have some short sentences and some long. Make some descriptions poetic and flowery, and make some choppy and sarcastic. Affect your style based on which character is telling the story. It’s a very difficult balance to strike, but once you discover how to pace your writing perfectly, the whole process will feel like a breeze.
(If you struggle with this, read read READ! It’s the quickest way to get better.)
Some helpful links I found.
The Editor’s Blog’s tips on keeping flow and avoiding impediments. A lot of these tips inspired the first bullet point on this post.
I was born to find goblins in their caves
And chase moonlight
To see shadows and seek hidden rivers
To hear the rain fall on dry leaves
And chat a bit with death across foggy nights
I was born to watch owls in dark forests
And hear coyotes cry
To feel trees tremble and the grass sleep
To taste cold air and smell the damp earth
And watch ghostly shapes disappear across foggy nights.
Codex Seraphinianus is a curious tome, first published in 1981 it documents an imaginary world in illustrations and text written in an intentionally undecipherable cryptogram. On this text, author and artist Luigi Serafini said:
“What I want my alphabet to convey to the reader is the sensation that
children feel in front of books they cannot yet understand. I used it to
describe analytically an imaginary world and give a coherent framework.
The images originate from the clash between this fantasy vocabulary and
the real world. … The Codex became so popular because it makes
you feel more comfortable with your fantasies. Another world is not
possible, but a fantasy one maybe is.“
The Codex creates strange lands and creatures from familiar, real world imagery and twists into something new and absurd. There are stories and meanings that can be read into these fantastic images in this encyclopaedia of another world, but Serafini insists that there is no single intended purpose to work, it is all left up to the reader’s imagination.
“At the end of the day, the Codex is similar to the Rorschach
inkblot test. You see what you want to see. You might think it’s
speaking to you, but it’s just your imagination.“
Serafini, L. Codex Seraphinianus. 1981. Franco Maria Ricci: Milan.
So proud to be able to say that my novel, The Deadly Nightshade, received over 400 downloads and made it onto the list of top 10 best selling books in its genre in only 24 hours!!! A HUGE thank you to everybody who downloaded a copy. I cannot express how happy it makes me that my book is now in the hands of 400 more people. If you don’t already have a copy and are interested in reading The Deadly Nightshade, you can get the eBook version here or the paperback version here. Again, thank you all for your support. It truly means the world to me.
Gabi nun, naalala ko pa nag-aya ka manuod ng volleyball. ‘Di ako mahilig sa volleyball kaya sinamahan nalang kitang manuod sa sala. Habang ikaw masayang nanunuod, ako naman ngumingiti nalang ako ng palihim kasi nakakahawa ang kasiyahang bakas sa mukha mo. Ang saya mo panoorin.
Nakaramdam na ako ng antok, habang ikaw tuloy pa rin sa panunuod habang kumakain ng paborito mong Piattos, ayoko ng Barbecue flavor kaya hinayaan nalang kitang ubusin ‘yun. Humiga ako sa hita mo, natigilan ka, pero alam kong nakuha mo ang nais kong iparating. Bakas na rin siguro sa mukha ko ang antok.
Hinahaplos-haplos mo ang buhok ko, iniikot-ikot mo ang ang hintuturo mo sa buhok ko. Ang sarap sa pakiramdam. Para akong bumabalik sa pagkabata nung ginawa mo ‘yun sa akin. Para akong lumulutang sa alapaap nung ginawa mo ‘yun. Hindi ko namalayan na nakatulog na pala ako.
30 minutos… 40 minutos…50 minutos… 1 oras. Hindi ko alam kung gaano na ako katagal na natulog, basta nakaramdam ako ng pagalaw ng hita mo. Marahil namanhid na ang mga ito. Hindi muna ako bumangon, nanatiling naka-pikit ang mga mata ko. Nagpapanggap na tulog pa rin. Pansin ko rin na tahimik na ang paligid. Wala na ang ingay na nagmumula sa telebisyon, tapos na ang pinapanuod mo. Wala na rin akong naririnig na pag-nguya mo sa paborito mong chichirya.
Nanatili akong naka-pikit nang bigla kang bumulong: “Napaka-amo talaga ng mukha mo. Kaya kitang titigan habang nabubuhay pa ako. Masaya ako na dumating ka sa buhay ko, ikaw ang nagbigay kulay sa madilim kong mundo. Pinadama mo sa akin kung gaano kasaya ang mundo lalo na’t kasama kita. Hindi ka man perpekto sa iba, pero para sa akin perpekto ka. Masaya ako na mahal mo ako at alam kong alam mo na mahal din kita. Sana ‘wag kang magsasawa sa akin kahit na madalas matigas ang ulo ko, kahit na makulit ako at kahit na madalas ako mag-selos sa mga taong naka-paligid sa’yo. Masyado lang kitang mahal at ayokong mawala ka sa akin. Patawad sa lahat at lagi mong tatandaan na mahal na mahal kita.” at nakatanggap ako ng madiing halik sa aking noo. Habang hindi s’ya nakatingin, masaya akong nangiti. Hindi n’ya alam na gising ako at hindi n’ya alam kung gaano n’ya ako napasaya sa mga sinabi n’ya.
Nung inahon n’ya ang mukha n’ya, siya ring pag-ahon na mukha ko at sinalubong ko s’ya ng halik. Gulat s’ya marahil dahil hindi s’ya kaagad naka-tugon sa mariin kong halik. “Mahal na mahal din kita!” sabay pinupog ko s’ya ng halik sa buong mukha n’ya. At doon na nagsimula ang aming masayang gabi.
alright so i was emotionally abused for a significant stretch of my young life lets just put that on the table where everyone can see it because a) idgaf and b) there’s people who consider that relevant
that being said
i dont particularly want to examine whether or to what extent my history has any bearing on the fact that i dig problematic and outwardly abusive ships of FICTIONAL GOD DAMN PEOPLE
and i sure as shit don’t expect people to meet some insane invisible prerequisite ‘minimum’ amount of trauma in their past to dig problematic ships that is completely ridiculous
seriously y’all who the fuck tries to gatekeep fiction
Hi, everyone! I’m Beth Maidment, I’m 14, I live in England and I’m an aspiring author. I have recently started my first novel called ‘Gravity and Clarity’, and on Wattpad, I have put up the first six chapters of it. It revolves around two characters called Elijah and Hope and it’s set in New York. I hope you will give it a read and also put some feedback on the site. I really am a beginner when it comes to writing, so tips on how to improve my writing, anything I should add into the chapters, or what I can put into upcoming chapters would be great! It’s something that I’m so passionate about and it would be lovely to get some responses on how to improve and such! Thank you so much and I hope you enjoy reading about Eli and Hope as much as I enjoy writing about them! Read the first six chapters here: https://www.wattpad.com/story/51273337-gravity-and-clarity- Beth Maidment