Write a story. Does that idea send fear shivering down your spine or maybe bring on a huge case of writers block? It shouldn’t. But, just in case…here are some tips that you can use.

First Things First

Come up with your story; something you saw or did that made a difference in your life or someone else’s.

Have a look at “Themes and Subjects” for ideas to help you unearth your story. Check out “Story Guidelines”  for the basics.

Getting Started - Especially If You Have Never Written Before!

Sometimes the hardest thing for someone who has never written before is just starting the process. Writing a story can feel like a daunting task. Staring at a blank screen or page and waiting for inspiration can stop you dead in your tracks! So…

  • Once you have your story idea and you are ready to write, don’t think too much. Over thinking will just get in your way. Instead…

  • Relax. Get rid of the critics. Listen. It is your unconscious mind that will provide the words. They will come to you. You will hear them. Then…

  • Let your mind go. Write what first comes into your head. Don’t worry about what it sounds like. It can be edited later. Sit down with your pen and paper or at your computer and begin to record your thoughts.

  • Listen for a first line. Something like, “I just knew she was an old soul from the moment I met her” or “He grinned and waved every time I walked by.”

  • Use that first thought as a jumping off point. Then, write whatever comes into your head next.

  • Picture the room…picture the people…describe them…remember how you felt…what you said and did…describe that too.

  • Your story might start in the middle. That’s okay. The beginning can come later.

  • Try to tell your story in a way that will make the reader cry, laugh or get goose bumps. Don’t leave anything out. Let the reader know how you felt.

  • Be the typist. Take down the words as your mind speaks them to you. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at what will end up on your page.

  • Read your story out loud. Listen to how it sounds. Make sure that every word counts and that the story flows.

  • Put your story aside for a day or two. Then, have another look at it. Read it aloud again and see what you think. Are you happy with it? Does it need a bit of tweaking?

Other General Tips for Writing a Story

  • You can start with an outline. What happened first? Then what? Make a list of the events in the story. Use it as a guide to help you write.

  • Who are the characters? Is it just you? Are there others? Will you write in the first person (“I/we”) or the third person (“he/she/they”)?

  • Begin with a strong lead that hooks the reader. Then go on to clearly and creatively introduce the main character(s), establish the central theme of the story and set the scene.

  • Show, don't tell. Color your story with action, imagery and dialog. Use lively, descriptive language. Make the reader experience the events and emotions portrayed.

  • Create a rich middle that describes the events that occurred, the experiences and emotions—in other words, the action of the story. Move the story forward toward its end.

  • Finish with a satisfying conclusion. Your story should end in a result, such as a lesson learned, a positive change or pay-off. Try to leave the reader with an Aha! or Wow! or Yes! moment.

When you are finished, submit it.