Most people looking to improve their writing usually look to the prose. Here’s why that’s not the only thing you need to work on.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of pretty words. I love when an author can string something together that just makes me take a step back and be like, “Woah. That was gorgeous. Wordgasm right here. Wow.”
But truth be told, simply smashing a bunch of pretty sentences together isn’t all it takes. There are so many writers out there who are more simplistic in their writing style but they’re super successful because they can tell a great fucking story.
And that’s why I read in the first place. For the story.
There’s a shit ton of advice out there about how to be a better writer and most of it involves things like refining your prose and cutting filter words and the different sentence structures and how to craft a paragraph that reads simply and cohesively.
Yeah, those things are important. However, if you’re a pro at prose but you can’t tell a story worth shit, your book is going to suck some major ass. And I like to avoid ass-sucking books.
I don’t care about a paragraph of pretty words if those words don’t take me anywhere.
That being said, how does one learn how to tell a better story? Storytelling is definitely a talent that’s usually natural. However, if you want to improve the way you tell stories, try some of these things.
1. Read Some Good Stories
If you’re a writer looking to improve your storytelling, you need to read more. More specifically, you need to read some good books. But in general, you just need to read. Make reading high on your priority list if you’re a writer.
Seeing how other authors managed to tell a story and tell it well will help you learn how it works and how to write something good. Figure out what they did from chapter to chapter that really hooked you.
Pay attention to how they ended it and what specifically they focused on in the climax. Take note of the foreshadowing of events and how they managed to slip stuff in without you noticing. Dissect the book, basically. But only if it was a good one and left you in awe. You’ll be able to tell if a book was bad and that’ll also help you see what not to do. Just don’t go reading shitty books on purpose.
2. Listen to some free advice from successful authors
It boggles my mind when writers aren’t actively working to learn more about writing and storytelling. Honestly, there are so many free or very cheap ways to learn. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars and go to college to become an author. That’s not necessary and that’s not the only way to learn more about how to write.
But you should still be learning and growing. And all you need to do that is a computer, some fingers that are able to type, and free time. There are tons of free resources online and even just on Youtube.
You can also just Google, “writing advice from whoeverthefuckyourfavoriteauthoris” and you’re bound to find something if they’re popular enough. So get to researching! It’s worth the time if it’ll make you a better writer.
3. Listen to comedians at stand-up shows
Now, this is going to sound very, very odd, but hear me out. What makes a comedian so funny? How are they (the good ones, at least) able to tell a very simple story and make an entire room of people laugh? It’s because they know how to tell a story. They know where to emphasize what in a way that’ll get people hooked
When someone is invested in that story, they can then hit them with something they weren’t expecting. That’s often the part that makes you laugh. You don’t see what’s coming because you’re so into their story.
Listen to comedians. Take note of what they do when telling their story so you can use those little techniques in your own writing. There’s a reason the good ones are so successful at what they do.
I’m not saying that trying to better your prose is pointless. I’m just saying that, if you want to write good books, bettering your storytelling is going to do a hell of a lot more for you.
Storytelling is an essential part of any good book. Even if you’re the best prose writer in the world, they’ll be useless without a great story for them to bring to life. If you can focus on improving your writing, you should also focus on getting better at telling stories.