A common mistake as a new writers is the tendency not to fully use your imagination to tell the story. First time writers usually are not comfortable with letting loose the creativity needed to make the story dynamic. They tend to have uninteresting characters, a less than compelling plot, or simply a dull writing style. New writers should not be afraid to expand their vision to make the story more compelling.
If you need some inspiration on being a dynamic storyteller, look no further than Michael Bay. You may know him from modern classics such as Bad Boys, Armageddon, and Transformers. Who better to be your writing inspiration than the man who can bring out the super in superfluous?
Here are some guidelines that are inspired by Michael Bay’s signature techniques for elevating a story:
- Start things off with an awesome explosion: Whether it’s a thriller, sci-fi, or even romance, Act I of the story needs to be impressive enough to make the reader want more. Its purpose is to engage the reader and to set the tone of the story. Entice the reader with the opening line and continue to hook the reader by giving a taste of the excitement and drama to come. Make the reader salivate for Act II.
- Use sexy characters (even if she’s a car mechanic or an internet hacker): Every character has the potential to be interesting, particularly the supporting characters. Don’t fall into the trap of making flat one-dimensional characters if they’re not the lead hero. Do your homework and flesh out your characters as real people rather than commonplace characters and stereotypes. If they’re not interesting, you’re not paying attention.
- Throw in more awesome explosions: Keep the reader engaged by continually increasing the stakes as the story develops. If you make the story linear, it becomes predictable. Create an unpredictable ride by adding more obstacles and escalating the stakes as the story progresses.
- Put Planet Earth in danger: Raise the stakes to the highest level by ultimately putting the world at risk. This world can be everything within the hero’s sphere of interest, or simply the world inside the character’s head. Wherever you draw the boundaries, make sure it’s significant enough with respect to the character.
- There’s never enough awesome explosions: A character arc is the growth of the character along the story. Use powerful events with the character to shape the arc. The peak of the arc is the revelation, where the character experiences the most significant transformation. Dramatic change can only happen as a result of dramatic events.
- Create a situation where escape is impossible. Afterwards, find an escape: The great storytellers knew that if you want to tell a good story, you must know how to apply tension. According to Jerry Cleaver, author of Immediate Fiction, the components of a story are simple: CONFLICT + ACTION + RESOLUTION = STORY. The reader will follow the story to find out what actions the hero takes to attain resolution, but both components rely on conflict to be meaningful. To control the tension, control the conflict. Don’t be afraid to increase the tension to make the story more compelling.
- End with the mother of all awesome explosions: Every great story has an ending worthy enough to make the story resonate well after the last word was read. Don’t settle with just tying up loose ends; draw out the tension and sacrifice everything as your exclamation point! Make the experience worth the reader’s time and give a finale that the story deserves.
I’m curious to know in which areas you see the need for improvement as a new writer. Would it be the characters, the plot, or the writing style itself? This article also has a slant towards fiction writers, but can these principles also be applied to non-fiction writing?
Editor’s Note: Don’t hit “Publish” yet!
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