Quick Tips for a Runes of Gallidon Writer

Before putting pen to paper (or before submitting your fictional work to Runes of Gallidon), please look over these questions. They are useful at the beginning of a project, can be valuable during the editing process, and might help when you're just plain get stuck. Most resources on "how to write" will address these topics - there's a reason for that.

1) Where is the conflict?

Good storytelling is built around conflict.

Conflict can be between multiple characters: a sword fight, frustrated romance, political maneuvering, bickering merchants, a race for a magical relic, etc.

Conflict can also be between a character and their environment: surviving a snow storm, a trip across the desert, a sea voyage, climbing a mountain, plumbing the depths of a city's sewer system, etc.

Conflict can be between a character and themselves: dealing with addiction or obsession, overcoming fear, discovering the power within, recovering confidence, matters of the heart, etc.

The best stories have multiple conflicts of multiple types. Conflict is an essential element of all good storytelling.

So put your character in a fix and see what happens. Throw a monkey wrench in their best laid plans and see where the story takes you. Give them a seemingly impossible challenge and figure out how they can overcome it. This can be painful (who wants to see their characters suffer?), but it will make for a superior story.

2) Show, don't tell.

Use your writing to show what is happening to the characters and how they respond. It's easy to write that your character is sad. It's much more powerful to show tragic events happening around your character and their actions/reactions to these events. Let the reader realize the character is sad/happy/fearful through events and behaviors rather than just telling the reader that so-and-so is sad/happy/fearful, etc.

If you are writing inside your character's head (first person), the rule still holds. Show the events happening around the character as they witness the events. Does the character really have time to sit around thinking, “I'm nervous,” or will their thoughts betray (show) their nervous state?

Instead of writing (telling), “it was the most beautiful sunset ever,” write what makes the sunset beautiful (showing).

3) Is page one (or even paragraph one) really the beginning of the story?

Consider your favorite story and ask yourself, "Why did the author choose to start the story there? How would it have been different if it started at a different time/place?" The story should begin at a moment that absolutely must be told. If it isn't necessary for the story you are telling, it's probably too soon to start.

Make sure each paragraph reveals something about your characters, their environment, or moves the plot forward. If it doesn't, consider taking the paragraph out.

4) Don't tell the entire story in the first few pages.

Okay, you have picked the right place to begin the story, but don't rush to impress the reader with your masterpiece. A common misstep storytellers sometimes make is to reveal too much about their characters or story too soon. As a writer, the process of developing your characters requires that you know far more about them than will ever be revealed to the reader. If you picked the right beginning for the story, the reader should already be interested enough in what's going on.

It may sound obvious, but it bears repeating: watch your pacing – too fast leads to “who cares?” – too slow leads to “who has the time?”

5) Be greedy with your characters.

A little privacy policy never hurts when dealing with your characters. There will often be a lot of information about them that will not and probably should not be seen by the reader. Give your readers only the information they need about the character for the story you are telling. Sure, some great gems/secrets/nuggets of writing will never see the light of day, but your current story will be better off for it.

Leave a little mystery in your characters. Darth Vader got a lot less interesting with his mask off...

6) Are you exceeding the reading limit?

"Reading limit" refers to how much information you are expecting readers to process during the course of the story. Too much information too early can overwhelm and confuse readers. Too little can bore them. Even if you follow the tips above, you can still drown readers in too much information. Give readers just enough to keep them oriented in the story and interested in turning the page. If it helps, think of it this way: the goal for each page should be to have the reader turn it.

While there are few absolute or inviolate rules in writing, but there are guidelines that help writers create better works. Consider the tips above as recommendations during your journey as a storyteller!