How do you write a slice of life?

#1
Greetings

A long time ago, I got slightly fed up with writing drama and tension and wanted to try something slightly more relaxing, both for writing and reading. The idea was simply a slice of life story about a human, who got temporarily stuck in a small world of mythical beings. The entire plot was supposed to revolve around the protagonist learning to adapt to this new environment and culture, and undergoing some character development in the process. However, I've already tried writing 3 different pilot chapters and each of them has been quite poorly received. Therefore, I'd like to ask if any of you could offer me any advice when it comes to writing this genre. (Or if I should abandon this genre entirely. I mean... that's also a piece of advice.)

Re: How do you write a slice of life?

#2
When I ran out of mood writing my main project, I will simply write the slice of life...
SOL is really fun to write. and a good SOL will be relax to read too...
a good SOL is a story where you can jump in anytime and in any chapter, and still able to enjoy it without in depth understanding of the whole story.
a lot of time, SOL focus too much on characters, and make it difficult to jump in.
but sometimes, a good SOL pair with comedy is really great.

Clara's Handbook of Cliched Romance is a SOL.

Re: How do you write a slice of life?

#3

HorribleWriter Wrote: The idea was simply a slice of life story about a human, who got temporarily stuck in a small world of mythical beings.
I believe that your problem lies exactly here. By definition, Slice of Life is about the mundane and the real. A character in a Slice of Life story is going about their day in the real live world, dealing with events that any one of us could experience. 


And none of us could have a day where we experience mythical beings. Mythical beings do not exist in the real live world.

Situation comedies on TV typically are Slice of Life. Friends and Cheers and I Love Lucy. Despite its similarities in plot, WandaVision is not Slice of Life. It is a parody at best. You can step into any of the first three shows at any point in any season, and enjoy the show. 

And that is because superheroes don't exist in the real live world. Also, WandaVision follows a plot where the last episode is reliant on what happened prior. Slice of Life does not do that. 

So good luck with your mythical story, and with writing something different that is Slice of Life.

I know you can do it! 🦦

Re: How do you write a slice of life?

#5
Slice-of-life isn't what I would call a popular genre. If you are writing fantasy slice-of-life, well the sub-genre doesn't exist.

However that didn't stop me from writing it. Mostly because it isn't defined and doesn't have all the silly conventions of fantasy because writers of fantasy really have no imagination and think the only way to write a fantasy novel is to have some conflict between vampires, werewolves, and magic societies. *stares disapprovingly at modern day fantasy*

In all seriousness, as I said, slice-of-life stores aren't a popular genre. In the general sense, it appeals to a certain audience. That audience is pretty scattered. It's not something that everyone likes. Most tend to see it as day-to-day meandering modern days type stories. Where it's just a story of the chapter or episode type deal.

It doesn't have to be like that.

I personally like fantasy elements and those that have a little more plot.

Without seeing or knowing what you've written, I would suggest you structure your story so you don't get into the trap of writing a character's every action. Because that's another issue I notice when people are writing slice-of-life. Especially at the opening. So don't bore your readers with a character doing something mundane that everyone knows how to do. If there is something to show there, fine. However, if it's irrelevant, don't write it.

Also, just because your characters is going through everyday action for them, doesn't mean you have to write it in a mundane way. You want to write about important things to a character and show off their character. They need to have goals, and you need to project how important those goals are to the reader.

So if the goal for the character is to find a better campsite, don't make it a boring. Show the readers something. Maybe that is when they see signs of something unusual. Perhaps moving isn't so easy as the character thought, and it's a good time to show what they can and cannot do. How they struggle. 

Now, in my opinion, I enjoy slice-of-life when the character is interesting. So on that note, know your character. In my opinion, the stronger the personality this character has, the better. You don't want a blank slate. A lot of the draw, for many people who like slice-of-life, are the characters and character interaction.

Other than that, I can't tell you anything else unless there is something more specific.


Re: How do you write a slice of life?

#6
I am also writing a slice of life story with mythical characters! It’s different from your premise, but your story does appeal to me, so I’ll have to keep an eye out! As was said before, make the characters and how they do things, interesting. Sorry I don’t really have additional advice, I was just excited to hear that there were others drawn to a similar sub-genre to what I enjoy!

Re: How do you write a slice of life?

#8
I've encoutered a similar issue, having converted an action/adventure story to a slice of life after a few chapters because it became more fun and interesting.

The main thing I've learned is to take inspiration from real life for interactions and boil everything down to separate interactions, like puzzle pieces. For example, characters go to a certain shop. A character's ex comes into the picture. The characters have a little spat about something personal. A holiday or special event.

You then take these interactions and then fit them into a bigger plot. The main thing is to make sure there is always a forwards moving plot; something is moving the characters forwards be it some motive to return to their world or something else. Without this, the slice of life can feel dry and kind of floundering and you'll find yourself having to come up with random things more often than you like or start freaking out about what interactions to add and this just makes the situation worse.

So get an overall plot; a simple end point. And then build the interactions on a day-to-day basis leading to that end point. You can then make things up as you go along with individual interactions.

As for the interactions themselves, you can usually improvise these with your characters and you'll get a good result; just make sure your characters are fully fleshed out before trying this. For example; "Arylos and Iris are at a merchant and Arylos is arguing with the merchant while Iris wants to go home." That's all I need to build a chapter around that interaction because I can improvise each character's dialogue and actions to match the scene. Throw in some spice of stuff that you need to happen for the overall plot and boom, you have a slice of life chapter.

TL;DR - Have an overall plot that the story follows and flesh out your characters so you can improvise their interactions and imagine it as a real life interaction. Play fast and loose but remain consistent.

Re: How do you write a slice of life?

#9
Slice of life is relativly easy to write but hard to write well.

Essentially you need to focus quite a bit more on any characters. A slice of life story can't have an endless amount of faceless background characters because the lifeblood of it is the character interactions.


Are you good at conversations? Writing banter? Thats the sort of thing that can let you coast while writing slice of life. You don't need to remove action or even keep a story happy for it to count as SOL. You just need to focus on the characters to the expense of anything else.

For a mythological world with a bunch of mythical characters...I'd recommend besides some initial transfer and confusion immediately bring the number of characters down to two for a while. Spend multiple chapters with the MC and a single mythical character thats either making fun of them, trying to get them to help them with something, trying to be helpful and explain where they are, trying to be helpful and give them a tour.

And then slowly bring in the rest of your main cast. 

Going a bit further into the "You don't need to remove action" for a mythological world you could frame a scene with a massive magical event. For example your characters could have a tea party or a picnic and in the background there's two mountain-sized fish fighting. Alternativly there could be something more subdued like some magical form of an aurora borealis that has trees and cloud people wandering around it.

You can definitely write about conflicts as well if you want. For it to be proper SOL content the conflicts could be kept to a more mundane nature - forest elf A can't stand nymph B because she cheated on the elf's eldritch horror friend. in this scenario the MC can try and mitigate any unpleasentries or try and prevent them from meeting or simply try and not get roped into any argument.

Re: How do you write a slice of life?

#10
Oh wow, thank you guys very much for all the answers. Quite a lot of them piled up lately. 4 new responses just today! How did that happen? :D I am super grateful to you because your views on the genre are quite enlightening.

You've all got some good points here. I really like the idea of starting with just two characters and moving on. That could be a really nice way to ease the reader into it.
Also, the idea of a bigger plot is not something I'd consider in SOL. At least, not at first. But you are definitely right that it makes sense to have the story move to some bigger conclusion.  DrakanThinking 

I will give it some more thought and who knows, maybe there will be a Slice of Life project soon added to my dashboard. ;)

Re: How do you write a slice of life?

#11
I had a writing teacher in college and this exact question came up.

He had a surprisingly simple answer.

Write a recipe on how to cook a scrambled egg. Include every minute detail about every step, no matter how simple, complex, boring, or exciting.

Now apply that format to your story. About anything.

Not sure if that was a good descriptor or not, because I've never written one. At least not yet.

But it seems like a good fit to me.

Re: How do you write a slice of life?

#12
ArDeeBurger Wrote:
HorribleWriter Wrote: The idea was simply a slice of life story about a human, who got temporarily stuck in a small world of mythical beings.
I believe that your problem lies exactly here. By definition, Slice of Life is about the mundane and the real. A character in a Slice of Life story is going about their day in the real live world, dealing with events that any one of us could experience. 


And none of us could have a day where we experience mythical beings. Mythical beings do not exist in the real live world.

Situation comedies on TV typically are Slice of Life. Friends and Cheers and I Love Lucy. Despite its similarities in plot, WandaVision is not Slice of Life. It is a parody at best. You can step into any of the first three shows at any point in any season, and enjoy the show. 

And that is because superheroes don't exist in the real live world. Also, WandaVision follows a plot where the last episode is reliant on what happened prior. Slice of Life does not do that. 

So good luck with your mythical story, and with writing something different that is Slice of Life.

I know you can do it! 🦦

I absolutely disagree with this position to the very core of my SOL adoring being.
-Much of slice of life is about the fantastical or strange. It works without stuff like that, but if, for example, a character were just casually the president of a nation, that would be fun and work perfectly fine. And what is a president but a lesser god?
Slice of Life is literally about showing a slice of life. I was going to have some tangent with suggestions, but those aren't necessary.
A tip: don't be too critical of character dialogue when it comes to banter(which is inevitably going to be common). Some responses that feel strange when you're editing work really well when you're reading the story like normal.

Re: How do you write a slice of life?

#14
Bluelightning42 Wrote: Slice of life is relativly easy to write but hard to write well.

Essentially you need to focus quite a bit more on any characters. A slice of life story can't have an endless amount of faceless background characters because the lifeblood of it is the character interactions.


Are you good at conversations? Writing banter? Thats the sort of thing that can let you coast while writing slice of life. You don't need to remove action or even keep a story happy for it to count as SOL. You just need to focus on the characters to the expense of anything else.

For a mythological world with a bunch of mythical characters...I'd recommend besides some initial transfer and confusion immediately bring the number of characters down to two for a while. Spend multiple chapters with the MC and a single mythical character thats either making fun of them, trying to get them to help them with something, trying to be helpful and explain where they are, trying to be helpful and give them a tour.

And then slowly bring in the rest of your main cast. 

Going a bit further into the "You don't need to remove action" for a mythological world you could frame a scene with a massive magical event. For example your characters could have a tea party or a picnic and in the background there's two mountain-sized fish fighting. Alternativly there could be something more subdued like some magical form of an aurora borealis that has trees and cloud people wandering around it.

You can definitely write about conflicts as well if you want. For it to be proper SOL content the conflicts could be kept to a more mundane nature - forest elf A can't stand nymph B because she cheated on the elf's eldritch horror friend. in this scenario the MC can try and mitigate any unpleasentries or try and prevent them from meeting or simply try and not get roped into any argument.

I second Bluelightning42 here. I would like to really emphasize strong character work, description, imagery, etc. It might help to practice writing vignettes first, since you want the scenes to breathe; the reader should be able to live in the world alongside the character. How do people eat breakfast in this world? Where do they sit? How do they sit? Do they use utensils? What's a breakfast food? Why is it a breakfast food? Your character might not think about these things, but done right, your reader will

I also agree that it's a good idea to keep the number of characters limited and to bring the rest of the characters in slowly. 

You've mentioned that the pilot went poorly. It's hard to say why without looking, but keep in mind that slice-of-life requires emotional investment from the reader. How did you initially attempt to hook your audience? 

Re: How do you write a slice of life?

#15
Definition of Slice of Life by Google Dictionary:
a realistic representation of everyday experience in a movie, play, or book.

Definition in Wikipedia:
Slice of life describes the depiction of mundane experiences in art and entertainment.

Definition in Merriam-Webster:
SLICE OF LIFE is an example of what ordinary life is like : something (such as a story or movie) that shows what ordinary life is like.

Defintion in Cambridge Dictionary:
 A movie, piece of literature, or a play might be described as a slice of life if it describes or shows the ordinary details of real life.

Definition in The Free Dictionary:
An episode of actual experience represented realistically and with little alteration in a dramatic, fictional, or journalistic work

That is all. Cookies for desert! And milk! ❤🍪🥛🍪❤

Re: How do you write a slice of life?

#16
I'm fine with whatever major plot involves brunch cooking and enjoying the results — bonus points for a couple's or group's subsequent food fight and whatever may ensue once they're all covered in yummy goodness. More points for including desserts with icing, frosting, cream, fruit, and pudding!

If they enjoy a nice bath and soak in a whirlpool after a long day, along with whatever shenanigans ensue, the story gets superspecial bonus points!

Slice of life can be very engaging, according to the life/lives on display.

Get up. Consider what the nightmare means. Cook food. Eat food. Bathe, or not. Dress. Listen to all voicemails, emails, texts, and P/DMs. Ignore all of them. Go out and notice the excellent weather while enjoying especially fresh, crisp air. Grab the sniper rifle from the garage; load up in the vehicle and take off somewhere. Setup the work area and wait. Doublecheck sonic suppressor. Discover target. Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap. Ponder for a moment the disruption you've caused at such a tranquil and beautiful park. Pack up. Stop by for an early dinner or late lunch. Especially enjoy the food you didn't cook and possibly the wait staff's physical form. Nod at other patrons, maybe mumble, "How ya doing?" as they pass by. Notice one patron in particular that you find striking. Ponder what a normal life would be like with that person. Go home. Watch "The Sopranos." Wake up to a free day. Cook-eat routine. Engage in both social and business communications. Enter new contract. Lament your life's choices. Recall your patriotism drove you to join the armed forces. Regret your PTSD and the utter lack of employment opportunities. Be grateful for your sniper skills. Gloss over the current month's stack of expenditures. Scoff at your monthly disability deposit amount. Ponder the bittersweetness of kills for bills. Begin preparations for the next job. Repeat until some point is made, or not.

Re: How do you write a slice of life?

#17
Have you read many slice of life books?  If you haven't maybe check a few out.  Travis Baldree wrote a slice of life fantasy called Legends and Lattes about an orc who gave up fighting to open a coffee shop.  (Think Starbucks).  Not a lot happens in the book but it's still a cute story.  It's pretty predictable but there's a little humor thrown in to make it about as enjoyable as a Hallmark movie.  (Some people love Hallmark movies, some people get bored easily with them.)

Even if you're doing a slice of life, you need some kind of challenge for your character to overcome and a path to get there.