Tuesday, June 9, 2015

BUDDING WRITERS PROJECT / Lesson #3: How to entertain readers and keep them hooked

Note: Are you ready for this week’s story writing lesson? These are some of our favourite tips!

Complete set: 
Lesson #1: How to create an awesome character for your story
Lesson #2: How to write a truly Singaporean bestseller
Lesson #3: How to excite readers and keep them hooked
Lesson #4: How to boost your imagination and get really creative

Sign up for this year’s Budding Writers Project by Marshall Cavendish Education. There’s a link at the end of this post.

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by Don Bosco

Young writers often ask me: what can they do to make their stories really captivating and irresistible?

This is a great question.

Good story writing is not about using lots of difficult words and complex idioms. Instead, it’s about finding ways to make your readers curious, so that they’re eager to see what happens next.

This week, we’ll look at three simple ways to make people pay attention to your story and keep reading until the end. Have fun!

TIP #1: Keep surprising your readers
Introduce a sudden event in your story that shocks your main character, surprises your readers, and even better still, sends the story in a completely new direction.

What’s going on? How will your main character respond? Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Your readers will have fun trying to figure this out.

Example: Your main character is on her way to school. She’s walking along and listening to some groovy music on her iPod. When suddenly — AAARGH! — she gets the shock of her life when a big, hairy creature swoops down from the sky and lands in front of her!


TRY THIS: Find a point in your story where things seem to be getting predictable or boring. See if you can introduce a nice surprise here. The more unexpected it is, the better!

TIP #2: Leave them in suspense
Plant an intriguing question early on in your story, but only make the answer available much later, after your character has successfully tackled a series of obstacles.

This technique is used to create a sense of mystery. Who killed the emperor’s favourite horse? Why did the old woman predict that the young boy would soon be a great hero? Will the sad girl ever find her missing father again? If we like the character, we’ll want to know the answer. And so we keep reading, in order to find out.

TRY THIS: Create a scene early in your story where someone asks an important question, and then reveal that this would be impossible to answer unless your main character does something very brave or clever. So what happens in the end? Keep your readers guessing all the way.

TIP #3: Make your readers laugh
Create comical moments in your story. This is a magical way to reach out to your readers and lift their spirits. Reading something funny makes us feel relaxed and delighted. And so we keep turning the pages, because we want to enjoy more of this.

TRY THIS: Write down your favourite jokes and see if you can work some of these into your story. (Example: Q: What’s more yucky than finding a worm in your apple? A: Finding half a worm!) Or observe your friends and see if they do anything amusing. You’ll definitely come across some funny ideas that you can use.

So keep working on your stories, my friends, and do check out the other lessons in this series.

Lesson #1: How to create an awesome character for your story
Lesson #2: How to write a truly Singaporean bestseller
Lesson #3: How to excite readers and keep them hooked
Lesson #4: How to boost your imagination and get really creative

Next week: Fun exercises to boost your imagination and help you create stories faster

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Sign up for the 14th Budding Writers Project here.

This year, in conjunction with SG50, writers will receive bonus points when you include local flavour in your entries. There is also a new category: Clean and Green Award, a collaboration with the National Environment Agency, to encourage entries about Singapore’s clean environment and how you envision Singapore to be in the next jubilee year.

Click on image to enlarge

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Don Bosco is the author of LION CITY ADVENTURES, published by Marshall Cavendish Editions. It's a Singapore exploration book with fiction segments where you help to solve mini-mysteries. It'll be in bookstores in June 2015. Come join the Lion City Adventuring Club and have fun discovering the marvels of Singapore! More information here. Read about the Lion City Adventuring Club here and here.