I would recommend first learning a few concepts:
POV and their influence, strengths and weaknesses. It will lead you towards the style you want to tell your story.
I recommend buiding the story by: Making the world and setting, create a plot and then the characters. Adapt them and make an outline of the story.
Draft, beta-read, rewrite, edit, beta-read, final edit.
pipedream Wrote: I’m with you my dude! The best way is to write as much as possible an hope people will tear your work apart. At least that is what I was told. Sadly, the royal road community is pretty nice and not a lot of people enjoy tearing novels apart for their flaws. The readers and mods are just overall nice people. Maybe ask for your readers to comment? Best thing possible is to ask someone you know hates your guts to read it and point out your inconsistencies. Warning: it hurt when your work is ridiculed so be ready to take a few punches.
I’ll try my best!
This discussion just reminds me of something I once read. It relates to why some writers are very reluctant to spend much time doing detailed critiques of other people's efforts.
Veteran SF writer Robert A. Heinlein is supposed to have once said that he had been a published author, making his living by selling science fiction stories, and frequently asked to give feedback on other people's writing efforts, for a solid thirty years before the first time he gave detailed feedback which led to a heavily revised second draft of the story which made it clear that the co-authors had actually taken his advice to heart!
And his advice had pulled no punches -- he had said, among other things, "This is a great story idea, except you need to throw away the first hundred pages of build-up, and move on to the really important stuff in the plot." The co-authors -- Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle -- actually ended up doing it that way, and the SF novel in question became quite successful! (It was called The Mote in God's Eye. I'm fond of it.)
Thirty years of effort before his attempts at constructive criticism finally made any significant impact on anyone else's writing . . . isn't that an encouraging thought?
(I'm guessing that most of the people who had asked Heinlein for feedback on their unpublished stories were not emotionally prepared to accept any criticism more significant than "you misspelled a word on Page 10, and you need to insert another comma into this big speech on Page 20.")
Reading! I know cliche but every author has a different writing tick, style and pattern. With slightly difference as they're always trying to improve, change and experiment. I know myself as I read more I learnt that I needed less detail in my stories as my first ones were well over 5000 words and went nowhere, even reading on Royal Road I improve (Mainly because I'm learning what not to do, for a quite a bit of it. :P and the comments, forums and reviews.) so reading is a basic and enjoyable way of learning to write better.
I also find it good to get an editor to take a look at your work since they have been taught to look for certain thing and it take a load off your shoulder to focus on your story and everything else that goes with it. :)
So, I'll number some aspects of writing I find important to improving this skill.
I noticed someone mention this, and I think this needs to be reiterated. Consume books as they are can inspire, show different writing styles, and provide you with more angles with which to look at your own writing.
Explore new genres! Read books you would normally avoid and see if they can spark some ideas.
Whoah! Such a novel idea, right? What I mean is that you should write outside of the projects you earnestly work on. Maybe commit to writing at least five-hundred words of a random idea into a short story. Practice doesn't make perfect, but it can help improve. Don't focus on editing these, just write.
3. Be open to criticism
Be open to constructive criticism. Look at people's critique as a means of just honing the craft, and maybe incorporate some ideas that they may provide. Though, always keep in mind that your idea and vision is yours. Don't let people derail that.
Hopefully this helps. Good luck and keep writing!
Don't neglect grammar, because nothing turns people off from a story more than not being able to read it properly. Avoid run-on sentences. Punctuate. Use short sentences and brief paragraphs when exciting things are happening to ramp up the urgency of the story, and use longer sentences and more detailed paragraphs when the pace needs to slow down.
Also, read your dialogue out loud until you get a feel for it on the page. Stilted dialogue is a common problem with new writers. Everyone knows how to speak, but putting a conversation on the page is tough. If the conversation sounds weird when spoken, imagine how it will sound to the reader.
EDIT: I PM'd you a line edit of your first chapter. Not a bad start. A little practice will go a long way. You have excellent fundamentals, just need to learn a bit about how to make it all flow together a little better. KEEP WRITING!
Wrote: The number one thing you can do is WRITE. Writing is a craft, and can be improved with practice. Even if you have nothing to say, or are stuck, write something. Writer's block is another way to say "lack of discipline".
Wholly agreed with this. Here's something that helped (and continues to help) me: start a writing journal. This can be a Word document, an actual physical journal, whatever. This is similar to warming up before engaging in physical exercise. The rules are as follows:
- You may only write for 10 minutes; when time is up, you close the journal and start working on your actual project regardless of where you're leaving things off
- You must write for 10 minutes; if you cannot think of anything to write, imagine a random quote, scene, your latest dream, whatever--write it down and go from there
You will end up with a journal full of weird crap, including a ton of ideas that you can potentially leverage down the road if you so choose. But the real benefit for me has been that it resets my brain. I might have been tired, burned out on my story, without ideas, etc. but after forcing myself to write for a specific amount of time with no expectations for the quality I usually find myself reset and ready to do some actual writing.
Even if you don't use that exercise, force yourself to write regularly anyway. Any idiot can start a novel, but finishing one is really difficult (and editing it? I still haven't figured that step out, personally). Getting the discipline to write regularly despite everyday life taking it out of you is key to finishing what you start, IMO.
Writing - As others have stated, writing in itself can improve a lot your skills. Just like any other kind of skill, you need to practice it to get good at it. As you write more and more, you get a better grip of how to write scenes. It's no wonder this is the one advice everyone in this thread has mentioned.
Reading - Reading allows you to see how others write down their ideas and help you improve as you pick up some of their skill. You do not have to read a whole novel (though it would help) but you can read some chapters. It's a bit like learning a martial arts, to use an example; you first see the moves by the experts and then you try it by yourself.
Crafting a narrative - Before writing a story, make sure to have something more in mind other than simply generic ideas. Craft a general narrative, mold the MC in your mind and then start writing. You do not need to have planned everything ahead (I myself only have a general narrative in mind but make up most of the details as I write), but you do need to have a general idea of the plot and the world you are going to write about. This helps greatly in consistency.
You don't always need to write in order - If you are writing the start of a chapter but cannot find a good opening or have a hard time with the introduction, you can skip right below and write the next part. You can return back to the chapter start later on, when you have thought of some ideas on how to write it. This is far better than forcing yourself at once to come up with an opening, which probably you won't like. It also means that you get to write something instead of getting stuck and waiting for inspiration to come.
Other than the wonderful advices you have already got, I think the first thing you need when writing a story is to love your characters. Get to know them, what are their strengths and what are their weakness.
A too good MC is boring, so try to give them some flavoring - something they're bad at, something that gets them out of their comfort-zone. That's something I learned about resently...
Formatting is importent and so is spelling. People do notice and I had seen others (and I myself was) notified by the viewers when they found such things in my story. It makes a story hard to understand, or annoying to read and can sometimes make it feel less than it really is.
Consistent plot - this guy (or girl) needs to do something? Well, each chapter needs to somehow farther this goal. Detours are nice, but not as the focus of more than half a chapter (that is my humble opinion, you don't have to agree).
The villiain - every good story needs a good villian. Love your villian, you can give him a quirk, an interesting back-story that gives the readers insight as to why he does what he does and last, make him someone you will love to hate.
There are a lot of videoes in Yutube, so feel free to watch.
Pandalicious Wrote: Hello! I am a 15 year old that is seeking advice to improve his novel, Omega System. I'd love if people could give me advice and tips to improve my writing skills! Thanks!
I flipped through your story, then read the first and latest chapter.
You are on the right track. At 15, you are miles ahead of most around that age. Your English is solid, which is more than I can typically say about fellow Canadians. What is really amazing is that you are writing in a simple way, rather than a convoluted try-hard kind of way. I can't tell you how hard it is to untrain "clever" writing. The thing to keep in mind for yourself is that any skill takes time to develop, and you are still in that developing stage. The best advice at this stage will be "be deliberate". Read lots, but read slowly and break down the way the author wrote. Write lots, but be deliberate in what you write. Focus very intently on what others do, then focus really intently on what you are doing.
That aside, there is one major issue with your writing. The story reads like this.
This happened. Then this happened. And this happened. And this happened. Over there, that happened. This, This, This, This.
It's not wrong. That's what a story is. You are just narrating what happened. Don't underestimate how hard it is to do what you are doing. So many amateur writers can't even convey a sequence of events. But it is not enough! It's like a foundation with no house (as opposed to most young writers that have a house with no foundation).
Your next challenge is going to be flow, and it will make all the difference in the world. Of course, that doesn't help explain anything, so here's something tangible! My advice is ordered from simple (small changes) to hard (style change), with your end goal at the bottom.
Damon looked around his bedroom for his uniform and finally found it. It was a red dress shirt with a black tie, with matching black dress pants. Damon picked up his clothes and brought them to the washroom to get changed. Damon lived in a run down apartment that had existed in the neighborhood for years. It had 4 rooms, his bedroom, washroom, kitchen, and living room.
1) Find a way, any way, to start your sentences with different words. There are 5 sentences in the above paragraph. 3 start with Damon, 2 start with It. Consider it a completely fixed rule that you need at least 4/5 of those sentences to start differently. You are going to find that hard with your current style, which is good.
2) The next step is to condense your writing. For example, the first two sentences above hit the same pattern of "this, this, this", when you can easily condense it down to "this". "Damon found his red dress shirt, black tie and black pants that made up his school uniform. He walked through his 4 room run down apartment to the bathroom to change". Even then, I would condense it down to "Damon found and changed into his red dress shirt..." There is no need to narrate every action in something like this (looked around, found it, describe it, picked it, brought it, lived in, describe it). That's where the "this this this this" flow comes from.
3) Add emotion! The paragraph is emotionally dead and this is always the case in the "this this this" way of narrating. For example, is he proud of the uniform? Did he keep it clean and pressed, unlike his other clothes? (or the opposite?) Is he ashamed of his apartment? Stuff like that will make the character real.
4) Practice descriptive writing. I'm going to borrow the example from https://www.writersdigest.com/qp7-migration-books/on-writing-fiction-excerpt because it highlights the issue so well, plus the excerpt is used as common example in English lit. The article is also full of great advice for exactly this issue.
Here's the original:
The small locomotive engine, Number 4, came clanking, stumbling down from Selston with seven full wagons. It appeared round the corner with loud threats of speed, but the colt that it startled from among the gorse, which still flickered indistinctly in the raw afternoon, out-distanced it at a canter.
Here's the "this happened, then this, then this" version of it.
The small locomotive engine came down from Selston. It was Number 4. It clanked and stumbled. It had seven full wagons. It appeared round the corner. It made loud threats of speed. It startled a colt from among the gorse. The gorse [/size][/color][color=#ba0000][size=x-small]still flickered indistinctly in the raw afternoon. The colt out-distanced the train at a canter.
Your writing will improve dramatically when you can make it flow. Something like "Damon bounced out of bed, read and eager to get ready for school. His uniform, prepared last night, was hanging from his closet door, carefully separated from the grimy walls of his run down apartment. The red and black uniform was his future, his way out of..." .
Don't stop writing, just practice, and you'll find all of this will develop naturally. Faster and safer if you focus on it. It's also good to get feedback on this part of writing because there is a fine line between "improving" and "try-harding".