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I'm in the skeleton stage, but to get into the rhythm of writing, I write short stories every few days. Upon reviewing them, I've realised that unless I am specifically aiming for abstract and vivid metaphors (which I'm pretty good at,) my writing is fairly boring and clunky. Obviously this presents a problem as it means that when writing normal or even action scenes, the writing just doesn't flow and appears to be written by a younger kid.

Examples:

  • In fast flowing action scenes, it either sounds too accurate/factual and therefore less like a story or too full of adjectives making it very clunky.
  • In average scenes, I just can't balance actions and dialogue without making it sound slightly childish - not at all what I want if I'm going to be writing a book. It just doesn't flow, I don't know how else to describe it.
  • In scenes with large amounts of similes/metaphors (particularly if I'm describing thoughts) I do fairly well and it sounds pretty good, but obviously a book doesn't only consist of abstract and metaphorical descriptions.

Are there any tips to get better at the flow and quality of writing in different scenes? What methods do I need to use to make the sentences flow? I have plenty of story prompts so that I can just write short stories and do lots of practice, but I don't know how to practice in a way that makes the writing better. I don't know how to make it sound more adult. Are there specific methods/websites/tips that could possiblly help?

3 Answers 3

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I think EDL is absolutely right. Reading a lot, and reading critically , will definitely help.

I think, for me at least, the key to flow is figuring out the timing.

For example:

(Quick)They went inside the house.

Vs.

(Slow)They crept along the dusty sidewalk, the sun flinging their shadows in front of their feet. The house loomed, impossibly large. They gathered under its gloom, and reached a hand for the knocker…

Sometimes the former is the right choice, sometimes the latter. I think the key to flow is knowing when to speed up time, and get your characters inside the house already, and when to slow it down, and build some tension.

I think good flow is when you “zoom in” to moments, by slowing them down and using detail, appropriately. Ie, when the story requires a heavy pause. And I think a lot of writing seems childish, as you put it, when it zooms into moments that do absolutely nothing for the story.

See if you can polish your already written stories by finding where the story needs no pause, and you can shorten, and cut down in those place. By contrast, the places where you do take your time will start to stand out.

The variation between the parts that are tell-heavy and move quickly, and the show-heavy parts that take a moment to build tension, will really help with flow.

Hope that helps!

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Read, read, read, then read more.

Read stories once for pleasure. Then, read the same story again critically. Take notice of your own reactions to the text. Where in the text do you find yourself filling in imagery from your own life? What is it about a specific line of text that engages your imagination? Why is some line of t ext in the story? What purpose(s) does it serve? Why did the author decide to write a sentence a particular way?

If you can think critically about another writers text, you’ll think critically about your own stories, as well. Then, you'll gain a tool to assess if your similes are appropriate for the character or the voice and tone of the work-in-progress.

Also, you'll gain confidence in your own writing. You'll develop counter (or supporting) arguments for that inner editor telling you what you've written isn't good enough.

Its important to read professional writers stories and novice writers stories. The professionals will show you how to do it well, while the novice writers will show you what ‘mistakes’ you are also making.

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Have you tried revising them? You may discover it is your best technique to get the story down and then work on the prose.

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