Jack Dane - Writing Compelling Stories

Jack Dane By Jack Dane, 18th Aug 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/1f-gkyfn/
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>General Fiction

Tips and helpful suggestions on writing effective and compelling fictional characters and settings.

Genesis - The beginning of a great story

There are many ways to begin a creative story. It may start with a specific character, an important event, a specific place that's either real or imagined.

The absolute joy of the creation of an original story is that you make the choice.

How best to grab a reader's attention, and hold it, for the first few pages of your work? This is, of course, the fundamental goal. To compel the reader in a powerful way to want to experience more.

If you find yourself full of different ideas and people, the best way to start is to simply write. Write and write, and keep writing. At the end of the day, you can trim and prune, like shaping a Bonsai tree, but you can't do that unless you've written something. Write everyday, and keep doing it. Even if it's simply random thoughts or experiences of your day. You're in training. Get on the treadmill!


What an horrific day. The alarm failed me, or I was in too deep a sleep to notice it. I probably meant to hit the snooze button, but instead turned it off altogether. The result was a panic mode of a quick breakfast, dressing the girls in the handful of clothes I grabbed, and packing them into the car to head toward the school.


A perfectly believable beginning to a day in the life of a mother. I doubt there's a person alive that cannot relate to the implied panic of starting off the day very late. The goal is something that happened to you, which you've related to the page, and something left unwritten at this point. What happened on the trip to school? Even if you imagine nothing happened, perhaps you stopped for coffee on the way home. What happened? The point is, you've started with a real life experience, and now many doors have presented themselves before you. Open one, and see where it leads. If you don't like it, open another.

I find myself in many situations where there are unlimited choices before me. I tend to write about as many as possible, and then choose the one that makes me feel like it will take my story further. You don't want the reader to be on page one forever, because there is too much detail, but you also don't want to push them too quickly. It's a bit of a tightrope, but you'll soon find a rhythm and pace that makes you comfortable.

Start with something simple, flesh it out and let me know how it works for you.

A Taste of my Writing

The following is copyrighted material. Please do not plagiarize, you have so many stories inside your mind, they are very personal and should belong to only you.

Flannery Collins, “Flans” to her friends, groaned as the realization of fatigue and a tremendous headache plagued her as she flipped off the alarm button. “Snooze” wasn’t going to cut it this morning. She hadn’t slept well, and she knew she was a small step away from a raging migraine. The Imitrex her Physician had prescribed only took a little edge off the jarring nausea, sensitivity to light and the flashing that the headaches always produced in her left eye.
Flans was a beautiful woman by any standard. Flaming red hair, killer green eyes, and a figure that was still kind after thirty-four years on the planet. She was no model, but she was damned near the prettiest woman in town. In younger and brighter years when dreams still existed and one could explore possibilities, she’d thought about modeling. The grueling competition was bad enough, but her nemesis was a great crème-filled donut. And it just didn’t seem worth it to her to have to keep her weight down to stick figure values. Also there was the fakeness of it all, which she found so damned unappealing. She was genuinely personable, never selfish or self-centered, and determined the life was not for her.
And so, for almost fifteen years, she had worked at Marty’s Diner, a local joint with good pie and even better coffee. In a way, working at the diner had brought her fame, if not a lot of money, at least in Stockton. Everyone in town came through those doors at some time during her career, and they all both knew and adored her.
She got out of bed gingerly, testing her stability. Finding it passable, she ambled into the kitchen and started a pot of Folger’s Colombian, her coffee of choice, sighed and chased an Imitrex down with a small gulp of water that she’d dispensed to the cupped palm of her hand.
The headaches had started a few years back, when she’d hurt her neck in a traffic accident. The co-pays had been tough to push through on her salary and tips, but what hurt her more was the fact that the guy that had rear-ended her had no insurance and had never paid her for repairs to her car. Gene, down at Stockton Auto had been a one-time suitor, and had generously allowed her to pay what she could for the car bill. It took her almost two years, but she’d paid it off.
She’d seen the man, Elliot was it?, many times out on the street. He had lost the charm and decent looks that had been present during his promise to pay her. In fact, she thought, he had seriously deteriorated, often panhandling or simply leaning up against a light pole shivering. Talk around the diner was that he had lost everything, and found an appetite for drugs to fill the vacuum.

I wrote this,simply thinking about a friend who suffered migraines, and shaped what perhaps might be a typical morning for her. You can do it too! Try it out, let me know how you do. Happy Writing!


Characters, Creative Writing Techniques, Creative Writting, Fiction, Setting, Writing

Meet the author

author avatar Jack Dane
Retired. Short story fiction writer, specializing in characters and settings.

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author avatar Mike
3rd Sep 2014 (#)

Terrific article! Your writing flows so easily. What a nice contribution, please write more!

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author avatar Jack Dane
3rd Sep 2014 (#)

Thanks Mike! The easiest way to write is simply to let your mind wander and get it into printed form. Later, you can edit and add :) Glad you enjoyed it!

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