Many writers find it challenging to create a story that is interesting throughout the whole thing. How can I make my story more interesting is a complex question many newer writers especially find challenging.
While there are many ways to make a story interesting, not every technique will work for every story. Create a strong plot, fleshed-out characters, action, suspense and more while focusing on the planning, writing and editing stages separately. Be thorough on each step before moving to the next.
Craft a Tight Plot
The number one thing to do before writing anything is to craft a tight plot.
Writing without really knowing in detail where the story is going will likely result in a lackluster tale that doesn’t feel cohesive.
Some writers find that very little planning and just writing by the seat of their pants works for them. However, this sort of writing is difficult to edit and may result in a long process of fine-tuning the story.
For the best results you need to spend time figuring out the key events of the story and make sure they are exciting and build up anticipation in your readers. Then, build these key events into a full story by adding more scene ideas and figuring out the best length for each part.
The journey from beginning to end should be something your characters must jump through hoops to achieve.
For each of these plot points, start by writing out a brief outline of what you want to happen for each section before actually writing the first word.
By the time you have finished the plotting section, you should have a detailed plan of the whole story.
You can always add in any ideas that you come up with later, once the story is underway or edit previous sections to fit your overall plan, but you need to have a well-crafted plot full of action, tension, risk, rewards and so on clearly planned out before you start.
It can be hard to add these items later so getting it right from the beginning is paramount to a good story.
Fleshed Out Characters
Your characters are the heart of your story, and if they aren’t compelling people, it will be challenging to make your story interesting.
It is important to create realistic people with complex motivations, fears and ambitions.
By creating interesting characters that the readers care about, you will add depth and interest to your story.
It can be constructive when thinking up ideas for your characters to pretend that they are real people because then you have an idea of how they would act in the situations you place them in.
For example, if your character is extremely shy and introverted, it would be unrealistic for them to take on an adventure that takes them into unknown lands with lots of strangers without a very good reason.
In this case, it would only work if the plot required such a character to be brave or if they were so desperate to go on the adventure that they overcame their fear and went anyway. The plot needs to have an infection point to force them to make that decision.
Then create strong characters, starting by brainstorming character traits that you want them to have, and add backstories about their lives before the story begins in your book.
Figure out their motivations, fears and ambitions and what they really want out of life.
By doing this for each character, you will have a whole cast of realistic people that the readers can identify with and add interest to your story.
Time to start writing.
Your opening chapter or section is crucial because it sets the tone and hooks the reader into needing to continue with the rest of the book.
You can put readers off very quickly by writing a dull, boring or confusing opening.
Start by thinking about what your story will be and consider how you want it to make the reader feel.
The first few pages should be exciting and draw readers in so they want to keep going.
To do this, you need to hook them with a really interesting description of a scene, a character’s internal thoughts or perhaps a start of the mystery to be solved.
For example, you could write an opening sentence that sums up the essence of your book and lets readers know what they are in for:
The boys looked at each other in fear as they felt the ground beneath their feet rumble with the approach of whatever was in the dark.
This kind of opening works because it creates a sense of tension and raises questions about what is going to happen next. Who are the boys? Where are they? Lots of questions from one sentence. Build on this in the first few paragraphs and pages to hook readers.
Add Lots of Action
Next, make sure that your plot has plenty of action and movement.
Even the most well-planned and crafted story can become tedious without action to drive it forward.
It is easy to slip into slower, more reflective moments, but these need to be few and far between if you want readers to stay interested.
Action is sometimes pictured as big and showy, like car chases, jet fights, foot chase through the subway, etc.
You do need plenty of action sections throughout your story, of course, but action can be on a small scale as well but has a more significant impact than just a simple description.
So you would avoid describing mundane details such as characters doing everyday activities such as having a meal, going to work or getting ready for bed.
Instead, try to think of an interesting way to essentially write the same event.
Let’s use a simple example of something mundane:
‘Do you want a cup of tea?’ her mother asked.
‘No thanks,’ Julie replied, ‘I’m about to leave for work.’
This first example is very dull and would be much better if you wrote it as a character taking action.
‘Do you want a cup of tea?’ her mother asked.
Before her mother had finished the sentence, Julie was already out of the door and calling over her shoulder that she would get a drink from the cafe near work.
Even though this second example doesn’t have much more detail and is basically the same, the slight change to a character in action adds a sense of urgency and makes it more interesting to read.
Your characters should be doing exciting things as often as possible. This will keep readers hooked and make your writing more interesting as you think outside the box and put your own spin on things.
Generous Amounts of Suspense
Suspense and the tension that goes with it are a great way to keep readers interested in your story and it should feature throughout.
Make sure that there are plenty of twists and turns, whatever happens, and never allow the tension to drop.
Suspense works best when it is delivered in small doses, so sprinkle it throughout your story rather than dumping it in big chunks here and there.
To keep up the suspense, keep vital information from the reader, so they always wonder what will happen next or who to trust.
Let’s go back to our simple example of someone getting ready for work again:
‘Do you want a cup of tea?’ her mother asked.
Julie stopped in the hallway and turned to face her mother, ‘I’m sorry, what did you say?’ she replied, looking confused.
This works because it creates a bit of suspense by withholding information from the reader. In this case, Julie’s confusion. Why is she confused by a simple question? What was she thinking about instead?
If we had been told immediately that something was wrong, we wouldn’t have been able to build suspense. So instead, we have a small suspense step building up to whatever more significant plot issue Julie will have.
There are a number of ways to achieve this kind of effect and it is essential to remember that your writing must never be predictable if you want readers to be hooked.
The best writing is that which makes someone want to turn the page and find out what happens next. So remember that every line you write should create some kind of tension, whether it is small-scale suspense or something more dramatic like a character racing against time to save someone’s life.
Write Faster Slow Poke
One thing that can make it difficult to create suspense and for your writing to become interesting is if you write too slowly.
It can be very difficult to keep a flow going if you are a slow writer who only produces a few hundred words a week. How will you keep up the story pace if you take a year or more to create a story?
It is not impossible, of course, but you are making it much harder for yourself.
Try to write as much as you can regularly, so the story is fresh and exciting to you. This will come across on the page and keep your readers hooked.
Set yourself a goal of how many words you want to fill in a specific time frame. This can be as little as 200 or 500 words per day to as much as 2,000 or 3,000 for those who have more time on their hands.
Setting word count goals encourages you to write faster and helps your writing become interesting because the story pace will be much higher.
Try to aim for 10,000 words per month if you are a beginner. This is achievable for someone who writes every day but should mean that your writing is more likely to flow better and more interesting.
Your story needs to move at a reasonable pace otherwise, it becomes boring.
Writing that moves along too slowly will bore even the most patient reader as they wait for something exciting to happen and they will give up on it.
So make sure you keep the pace as fast as possible at all times.
One way to do this is by avoiding descriptions of mundane things, such as characters doing things they would normally do, especially when there’s no point to it.
In the example above, Julie going to work every day wouldn’t be a good place for suspense unless it has a point in the plot. Don’t just include it because that is what she does in the morning. It should be cut out if it does not have a purpose later.
Instead of describing the character doing something unimportant that would slow down your writing, just skip ahead and get straight to the action. This will keep your writing fast-moving without leaving too much out, making for better quality fiction overall.
Dialog needs to be very well written. Many readers are aware of how bad dialog is immediately and it will put them off your book. Poorly written dialog just stands out.
Dialog needs to be meaningful and should not just consist of one line conversations between characters.
Look for opportunities to give the characters a purpose in what they are saying.
Read out your dialog and see if it sounds natural. Try to imagine how they would be feeling. Would the emotions come through? Then, rewrite the dialog so it gives you a better idea of who your characters are.
Also, make sure to create dialog that is a little different for each character. They will not all sound the same so make sure there are small differences in what you write. It will sound very flat if all the characters talk the same way.
Just having conversations in your novel is not going to make for exciting reading. So keep in mind that every line should have some kind of meaning and purpose.
Aim for meaningful, smooth dialog that flows well, as this will make your writing more interesting to read.
Edit Out The Filler
Once you have finished your first draft, it is typical that you will find lots of areas that don’t add anything to the story during the first edit.
There are often things your characters do, descriptions of settings and even little bits of dialog where they can be cut out. Everything should have a purpose when you write your first draft, but in some cases, it is not immediately obvious why something was there in the first place.
You typically make huge improvements between draft 1 and draft 2. The advantage is that you now have a full picture of the story as written and can work to enhance it.
That means going through the entire manuscript and thinking about all the different elements, what they do, and how they affect your writing. Then you want to look at everything that doesn’t add anything, cut those out and then smooth over the remaining parts, which now have a bit more impact.
This will make for much better quality fiction overall as you are focusing on the best material.
Know Your Audience
Writers should always try to connect with their readers and know who they are writing for. Getting to know your audience can help you better understand them and, therefore, help you write something more enjoyable for the reader.
An obvious example is that if you are writing a children’s book, there may be certain words or situations which aren’t appropriate, so knowing your audience means you can avoid this and keep things simple and straightforward for the reader.
For more adult-oriented books, knowing your reader can help you use language suitable for them and not alienate or confuse them by using complex words or concepts.
When you write for a specific audience and keep them in mind, you are able to write something more relatable. That will help you engage with your readers, creating a great relationship between writer and reader.
So when it comes time to edit, think about who you are writing for. How old are they? What do they know? Then use the information you have gathered so far to enhance your writing.
Always keep your audience in mind when writing and editing to create a better experience for them.
It makes the whole thing more interesting as you know who you are writing for so you can concentrate on including essential elements that will interest your reader specifically.
Skip Some Rules
Writing has many rules that, as a beginner, you generally should learn and use, at least as you develop your skills and writing technique.
But don’t be discouraged if you aren’t following them all because it is ok to break some rules when writing fiction.
The good news is that there might be something that could make the book better if you break one of the many rules.
This can make your writing more exciting and engaging for the reader as you push the boundaries and take them on a journey where they never know what will happen next.
Once you have learned the so-called rules and are getting skilled as a writer, you can start to think about how you can break some and make something more interesting as a result.
So feel free to ignore the rules and experiment a little as you write.
This can be a way to separate your writing from other books in the same genre and stand out when it comes to being published.
Defeat Writers Block
Many writers have issues writing at some point in their careers. Whether it is a lack of motivation to write regularly, ideas that do not seem very good or are just stuck on developing the scene.
Everyone gets writers’ block at some point and it can be very frustrating for someone who is using writing as a career or just has an urge to write often.
One thing that works for some is to just write anything at all literally. Just getting the mind moving to produce anything for some people will quickly restart the process for what you really should be writing.
Sometimes taking a break from your current project can help, so give that a try.
If you really have no idea what to do next, it might be a good idea to think about other concepts you can maybe turn into future projects.
Sometimes your mind gets hooked on the current project and it is hard to move on, so taking a step back can allow for better inspiration when things come around again.
By taking a little break and recharging your batteries by doing something completely different such as getting some fresh air, gardening, or a short trip somewhere, you will be able to come back to the writing process with a new perspective and renewed interest.
Get Input Early and Often
One of the best ways to make sure your story is interesting and improve it is to get other people involved.
When other people are interested in your project or story, it can motivate you to work harder on it and ensure that you are getting the very best out of it.
Having other people read through your story will also give you different perspectives, which could help you find areas that need improvement.
As soon as you have a reasonable draft, get some friends or family to read it and give you some feedback.
You will be able to see where the story needs development based on their comments and how they felt about it overall.
Trying out different writing styles is one of the most effective ways to make your story interesting, as you can try out different tones, language and characterization to really push the boundaries and give the book a unique feel.
It is important to note that this should not be done too early in the writing process because you will need feedback on each chapter or scene.
Also, try using different techniques for characters so they are interesting but realistic which is something that everyone likes to read about.
Join a writers group to get feedback from fellow writers who have experience in writing. This can be a great way to get support from people who are in or have been in the same position you are in your learning journey.
They will generally be only too willing to help you make your book stand out from the crowd when it comes to publishing.
As you plot out your book, make sure that you have a very well-planned and executed finale.
This should make the reader feel a wide range of emotions to leave them with a lasting impression.
It can also help if you tie up most, but not all, the loose ends, which will make your story more interesting as some elements are open for interpretation.
You want to leave people wanting more so they immediately start asking for follow-up.
So there are 14 essential elements to keep in mind as you start your journey. Many of them are easily understood but can take some practice to learn and implement well.
Just work on a few at a time and keep improving. You will soon find that these elements are part of your writing habits.
The most important thing is to enjoy yourself and have fun with it.
If you are struggling with any part of this, don’t worry too much about it because in time, it will all come naturally to you when the process becomes more enjoyable than difficult. Good luck!
Thank you for reading