I've written this from the perspective of someone who wants to write a book, but most stuff also applies to shorter stories or essays.
The planning section is the longest part of the video, which goes to show how important I think it is to research and plan a story before you start writing.
Good luck with your writing!
If a man gets in a car, you don't need to say ‘The man got in the car. He buckled his seatbelt and turned the key. Then he pulled up the door and started the engine.' Nobody cares about all the tedious details, you just need to use enough words to create an impression of what's going on.
You could just say ‘The man got in the car and drove off,' or you could pick up on one detail that creates a stronger impression like, ‘The driver's waxed jacket squeaked as he buckled his seatbelt.'
CREATE TENSION BETWEEN ALL OF YOUR CHARACTERS
Think of CHERUB. Lauren and James are siblings who love each other, but also tease each other and get on each other's nerves. James isn't entirely comfortable with Kyle's sexuality. Kerry and Bruce have a long standing rivalry. Lauren hates Jake Parker.
Imagine how boring CHERUB books would be if all the characters got along fine.
THINK ABOUT DIFFERENT WAYS TO EXPLAIN COMPLEX STUFF
There's nothing wrong with complicated plots, but if you reveal all the details in one go it'll be about as exciting to read as a maths textbook.
Try and think of the most interesting way for the plot to unravel. You can put the ending at the start, or use a flashback, or you can have an action sequence but only reveal what's going on after everyone is dead.
You'll also learn more about this when you break down and study your favorite book, like I suggested in tip four, or look at how it's done in movies or TV shows.
VILLIANS ARE MORE FUN
If you plan on writing serious fiction you can probably ignore this tip, but having crazy and interesting villains always gives a story extra spark.
BIGGER ISN'T ALWAYS BETTER
I enjoy going to the movies and watching some crazy over the top action movie where flying saucers blow up Big Ben as much as anyone else. However, books are very different to films and it's better to concentrate on creating good characters and having an interesting plot where you can't predict what will happen next.
GET HONEST OPINIONS AND BE PREPARED TO MAKE CHANGES.
Maybe when you were six your mum told you that every story you wrote was great and then pinned it on the fridge. But if you're serious about improving your writer you need find an honest critic.
It can be hard when you spend ages working on something and someone rips it apart, but finding someone who gives you good criticism can really improve your writing.
HOW DO I GET MY BOOK PUBLISHED?
Getting your first book published is one of the toughest challenges that every author has to face.
I'm a writer, not a publishing expert. The VideoJug website has a bunch of videos recorded by publishing industry insiders. If you're serious about getting a book published I'd strongly advise you to click on THIS LINK and spend some time watching what they have to say.
However, ideas are the most difficult part of creating a story and there's no such thing as a totally original idea. Most of my books were originally inspired by things I read in a newspaper, or saw in a movie, book, or TV documentary.
Don't get hung up over whether your idea is totally original. The important thing is not where your idea comes from, but what you do once you've got it.
PLAN YOUR STORY BEFORE YOU START WRITING
When I start working on a new book I'll spend 4-6 weeks doing research and trying to turn my initial idea into the plot of a story. I'll then spend another week or two making a chapter plan that tells me everything that happens during the story.
I've heard other writers describing their books as a journey and that they just start writing and see where the characters take them. I think these people are mental.
At best you end up with a plot that's not as well worked as it could be, at worst you get stuck and can't finish the book. Your publisher will cancel your contract and you'll end up living in a cardboard box in the alleyway between the kebab shop and the dry cleaner's.
PLAN YOUR STORY WITH AN EVEN PACE
When I first started writing I used to read the stories fans sent me (sadly I get sent so many now that I could only read them all if I gave up writing books…). These stories would typically spend half of the opening page describing a blade of grass, and then the second half of the page would cover a 30 year war and the destruction of the entire universe.
Try and avoid doing that!
HOW COME ALL MY STORIES ARE SO SHORT?
I was about fifteen when I first started trying to write novels. My biggest problem (apart from the fact that they were all pants) was that I could never come up with stories any longer than about fifty pages.
There's a huge difference in scale between a 70,000 word novel and the 1,000 word story you might be asked to write at school.
I eventually got around this problem by opening up one of my favorite books, studying the plot and writing down exactly what happened in each chapter. This really helps you to understand plot twists and how good writers structure and pace their stories.