At Craft of Writing we’ve compiled hundreds of hours of books, podcasts, and online courses into core writing principles you can easily understand and practice everyday.
We did the leg work, so all you have to do is profit!
Here’s just a few of our favorite books- we encourage you to check them out!
The 5 Steps of Better Writing
- Technically Sound Chapters
- Evoking Reader Emotion
- Mastering Story Structure
- Conveying Personal Style
- Achieving Theme Resonance
Technically Sound Chapters
The first step to better writing is Sentence Structure, and no we aren’t talking grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Sure these things are important, but that’s not where your focus should be. Your sentence is meant not just to inform but to pull in a reader. Sometimes that means being more than a little creative with your structure. The music of writing, the crafting of ideas, sometimes requires more feel than “correctness”.
Next is understanding your Paragraph Formatting. Nothing will stop a reader in their tracks faster than a paragraph that skips and jumps, ends abruptly, or includes too many elements to make sense of. You are the guide. By starting your story the reader must already follow you through memories and ideas that are not their own. Don’t make it harder on them then it needs to be, or you’ll lose them before the journey even begins.
Finally, there are Chapter Targets. How did the story change? This is the vital question any reader must be able to answer by the end of the chapter. Without intent and understanding on your part to convey ideas- you can’t expect the reader to just get it.
Evoking Reader Emotion
The first thing the reader needs is to Connect with Challenges your characters are facing. Whether fantastical or realistic the characters are going to feel emotions the same way that the reader does and character fears, and worries need to be on par with their own.
Next, the reader needs to be able to Empathize with Struggles your characters are having. This means they have to understand the motivations and decisions your characters are making. The moment a character makes a decision your reader doesn’t empathize with, your character will start to fade. Fail to create opportunities for empathy enough and you’ll lose the reader entirely.
Finally, the reader needs to understand the Stakes and Tension at every point in the story. The moment a threat is resolved or a problem is removed with no other taking its place, the story is over. The reader has nothing left to drive the story forward and the longer there is nothing the faster the book is put down, never to be picked back up again.
Mastering Story Structure
In storytelling, the Story Beats are rulers of all. These are the main points of your story that will create the conflict and change that drives everything. Your beats can follow whatever you like. The heroes journey, Save the Cat, or something entirely unique. Whatever it is, you must know these major points so that your character stays challenged and your reader engaged.
Next, are the Scenes of a story. These make up the action of your book. They are the paragraphs of action and movement, of physical transition or conflict, or of quickening drama and debate. The scene of a story moves at a lightning pace and leaves the reader gasping for breath.
Finally, there are the Sequels of a story. It can’t all be running and gunning. Even the biggest action sequences have to slow down. Because that’s where the reader connects. These are the moments of reflection, of decision that propels the character forward in the story. When something has happened there’s processing that must be done, and in order to follow the reader needs to understand motivations. The sequel provides this understanding.
Conveying Personal Style
In writing Word Usage is the equivalent to a director’s camera angle or move. They are the signature markers of your writing. From individual words to turns of phrase- when you take command of your word usage, your unique voice will come across stronger.
Next, you’ve got to be brave in Conveying Perceptions. The worst thing a writer can do is be unsure. Not only is it untrue that you have no opinion. It betrays your readers desire to see the world from a scope and perception other than their own. You’re a lens for the reader to see the world anew. This is your door into showing your uniqueness.
Finally, when you get to Sharing Opinions. You’ve got to make sure they are clear and confident. Sure, you don’t want to be preachy, but don’t forget your character is facing down massive challenges in their lives. Challenges that are a big part of the reason the reader is hooked. If you aren’t driving home these ideas then not only will you disappear from the writing, but the reader will lose interest in the character as well.
Achieving Theme Resonance
To finally knock a story out of park it’s got to create Fantasy Fulfillment for the reader. We all want to write stories that feel real, but reading even for Non-Fiction is about escapism. It’s about seeing, hearing, and maybe even understanding the lives of others. If someone has started reading your book it’s because they want to escape and be amazed by you.
Next, you have to make sure you’re Providing Solutions to the challenges the character faces. The solutions don’t have to be positive. They just have to bring things to a resolution. If the mindset of your character is one that leads to demise so be it, but whatever you do- don’t bring a character’s journey to a non-resolution. The reader will never pick up your next book if you do.
Finally, almost nothing is more important than Keeping Promises. When you write there are promises everywhere. Sometimes they can be hard to spot. Sometimes they are unintentional. Sometimes they are foreshadowing. At all times you must be aware of them and keep them to the reader. This is what builds trust, and ultimately resolves your book in a way that will have them coming back for more every new release!
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