Writing Notes To Myself

These are notes that I need to remember for every story I write.


1. The Basics

Do not have exposition on something we already know – Never repeat anything ever. If a character spills a drink on their shirt and they feel cold, it should never be mentioned again. The reader will know that she has a spilled drink on her when the guy she is interested suddenly walks up to her.

Every moment counts, remove anything that is not absolutely needed (everything, every line must have a specific purpose) – In screenplays a movie is so costly you can’t waste any time. Books can do the same. You always start a scene at the last possible moment and exit it at the first opportunity. The character does not need to walk to the car, open the door, insert the key into the ignition, start it, and drive off. The only reason you would have that scene is if the car was going to break down and he was about to meet his true love, otherwise he just “drives his new sports car weaving through traffic” to show that he is rich and self-absorbed.

Establish why the audience should care about the characters – Something about each character that they do or say that makes the audience want to care,. Even the bad guy should do or say something that for example shows that he is good at being a bad guy.

Show it don’t say it – Only have dialog when words must be said. Everything else should be by the characters actions.

Everything a character does must be because of some motivation – If a character cries the reader must know why. It is best to convey the motivation before the character does something. If we know a character is upset at losing the football game, we don’t have to explain why he cancels the date with his girlfriend.

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