Vary your sentence length
Writing only in long sentences can make a story seem like it’s dragging, and all short sentences makes it seem like it’s constantly stopping and breaking up unnaturally. So mix it up. Change between different sentence lengths, but don’t just vary them randomly with no thought behind it. Use long sentences when describing a person or a scene, followed by a short one to show an action someone is taking. Varying sentence length can also really build tension, and a short sentence in the midst of long ones can provide emphasis. Jon McGregor’s writing is a great example of how to use sentences of various lengths effectively, especially in his novel If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things.
Use dialogue well
Pages upon pages of dialogue can get a bit boring, and not enough dialogue can become really hard to read. Dialogue should be used to show what a character is thinking, to reveal something new to your protagonist or to move the story on. If two characters are having a long conversation that you fell is essential to the story, that’s fine, leave it in, but try to break it up a bit. Break the speech up with descriptions, of the room, the person talking or the sound of the coffee shop behind them. Anything small will help to keep the story going strong.
Make sure to be careful with the dialogue tags you use too. For those of you that are unsure, dialogue tags are the words used to describe how someone says something, for example said or exclaimed. My advice would be to stick to said most of the time. Overusing more descriptive and emotive tags can take away from their meaning, so only use them for emphasis when you really want to get across how your character is feeling. This means only using exclaimed when your character really is exclaiming something.
Readers like to see something new, because believe it or not we are actually bored of those age-old stereotypes that have existed for way too many years. We want you as a writer to surprise us and give us something new, and the best way to do that is to give us an unexpected character. So your love interest is a hunky 6ft man with dark hair and a tan, so what? It doesn’t surprise us, it’s the norm in fiction so we don’t think anything of it and don’t particularly relate to it. But what if your love interest was a 5’5” rugby player with acne and a love for agriculture? That’s something new and interesting and makes us want to know more. It also gives you as a writer the opportunity to really develop this new character into something your readers will love. Take The Big Bang Theory for example. Yes, it’s a TV show, but it has the same concept. They’ve made a short nerd the love interest for the pretty girl, and that’s one reason why the show has done so well. It’s a new concept that viewers aren’t used to seeing, so they want to see more.
There’s just 3 of our tips on how to make your writing better. If you’re already doing these things, that’s great! If not, try sneaking them into your NaNoWriMo and see if you think they make a difference to your writing. Or do you disagree with us? Do you think stereotypes make readers feel more at home with your writing? Let us know in the comments below.