What Makes a Good Story?

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As a writer, I’m often asked “how do you know what you’re writing is good?”. Well, it’s a matter of personal taste but there are some things you can see along the process that will let you know you’re on the right track.

First and foremost is when you read back what you’ve written and say to yourself “That’s pretty good!”. I love that moment. Usually, you should step away a few days or even weeks to do this. When you come back, you can pick up a chapter and read through it. If you would find what’s on the page interesting, there are certainly lots of other people who would as well.

Friends and family are another great resource for this. Find the honest ones, because many people you know will tell you that what you wrote is good, whether it is or not. Most will be astonished that you could actually write anything at all. But do find those people who do a) read a lot and b) watch a lot of movies/television. We’re in the media era, like it or not, and if you’re story’s got the “mental eyecandy” then people will let you know.

I had the first person who read an early draft of Paris say to me “It scared me”. That’s when I knew I was on the right track. Others have been offended at some of the more graphic elements of the book, but that’s also a good thing. It says I’m doing right by the audience I am aiming for, and that the book is for a specific niche.

Above all, try to keep your head on your shoulders when writing. Don’t get too bogged down in the details on your first draft. You can always come back and make revisions. Just write, step away, come back and read … doing this will give you a clear perspective on your work and what to do going forward.


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