Story Tip Tuesday

Over the years, I’ve come to realise something very important and that is the value of words.

Of course, as a writer, words are what I do, but it's taken me twenty years to understand that words are nothing more than a tool and when we use them in this way, this is where the magic happens.

My mother was the most extraordinary painter and she taught me so much. When people asked her how she painted, she often replied that her brush knew where it wanted to go. As a result, the images that poured out onto her canvases were filled with movement, emotion and layers of depth and meaning. She tapped into something real inside herself and in doing so, created an emotional journey for those who saw her paintings.

Words, like a paintbrush, are a powerful tool, but they do not hold any value or importance in themselves. The value comes when a writer uses words to paint the pictures and take their audience on an emotional journey.

Use your words like a paintbrush. Create beauty, ease someone’s...

If your goal is to be a working writer, one important skill you’ll need to master is how to come up with great stories day after day, year after year. The kind of stories that feel fresh and unique. The kind that have an element of conflict and the promise of a journey. The kind of stories that ring true to your audience and capture the human experience. The kind of stories that have something important to say.

So where do these stories come from, and how do you meet the challenge a working writer faces when you suddenly have an opportunity to pitch for a series or film? The first thing many people do is head over to their computer, but in my experience, there’s a better way.

In the early days of my career, I had an opportunity to write for the US series Rugrats. The competition was fierce and my first task was to pitch story ideas. Each story pitch had to be written up in a paragraph called a 'springboard', and since the selection would be made based on how strong my ideas were, how uni...

As the saying goes, ‘Two’s company, three’s a crowd,’ and although this isn’t exactly true when it comes to your story, there’s a seed of wisdom here that leads me to try to address a question I get asked… a lot! And that’s, ‘How many characters should a great story have?’ Now although there isn’t any definitive answer to this question, here are a few tips that I hope will prove helpful in developing the characters for your story:

Tip 1: Each character must have a unique purpose and reason for being in your story, and as a writer, you must know exactly what that is. From your all-important hero down to the smallest secondary character, you as a writer have the ability to make each character really count. Take the time to get to know your characters. Ask yourself about what they bring to the story and what their relationship brings out in your hero. Are they a love interest? Do they become a source of conflict? Do they challenge? Annoy? Teach? Help your hero face up to a certain truth?

Ti...

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