Knowing how to write a story is a skill that every English student has to learn for academic, essay writing and examinations. In countless academic situations, you are required to write a story, from a very young age right up to GCSE and A level English. In fact, the most important skill is often not really the story itself but its construction and the way in which it is written. So mastering the art of story writing is a very important technique and one that will actually serve you throughout your life, as it contains the knowledge of writing and structure that are essential to all forms of writing, and will always be helpful in a myriad of different real-life situations.
How to plan a story
Planning is an essential aspect of story writing, because the questions are often quite open-ended, giving you the opportunity to create as broad and complex a story as you like. The key to writing a successful story is to know exactly how much time you have and not to be over-ambitious about the amount of content you will really be able to write and write well, in the time. Remember that you are not going to get marks for the actual events that happen in your story, but for the manner in which they are described, so it is much more advisable to choose a fairly simple story with only one or two major occurrences that you can really describe in-depth and linguistic detail, not a very complex tale in which so many exciting events occur that you barely have time to squeeze them all in and risk running out of time at the end before finishing your story. To earn a high grade, you must always get to the end of your story.
Stages of a story
The structure of a story varies from that of other academic assignments, and it is advisable to split your plan up into sections accordingly. It is therefore advisable to start with ‘introduction’, in which the characters and situation are introduced, then ‘build-up’, in which a problem or tense situation arises, then the ‘climax’, where the most dramatic part of your story occurs, followed by ‘resolution’, where the problem is solved and ‘conclusion’, which cleverly ties up the loose ends and finishes your story. Under each heading make a note of the events that belong in that section, and add any exciting vocabulary, metaphors, images or similes you will include when writing it.
When writing your story keeping to time is extremely important, so make sure that you split up the time available equally between the different sections of your plan and stick to these time limits strictly. Remember when dividing up your time to leave yourself an extra ten minutes to check through at the end for spelling and punctuation mistakes. When writing your story, remember to spend more time on the actual writing than the events themselves. A very detailed and sensory description of a calm lake with birds landing for the night can be worth far more marks than a sketchy account of an explosion at a nuclear power station or an alien attack that simply tells us what happened without any really good description.
Story writing language
It is important to choose your vocabulary very carefully, as this is the most important aspect of successful, high-grade writing. It is important to use lots of adjectives and adverbs, never describing a thing without telling us about its texture or colour, its character or emotions. Never describe an action without telling us the way in which it was done as this adds a whole new depth and interest to your story and one that is essential if you want to earn top marks. Remember to describe things using the different angles of all the five senses – don’t just tell the reader what things look like, but also what they smell, sound, taste and feel like, as this will make the story seem much more immediate and realistic to them. Other linguistic methods like metaphors, similes, imagery, alliteration, personification, and onomatopoeia will all help to improve the quality of your story writing and raise your marks, so think carefully when you are writing and add in as many exciting effects as you can.