Dream Writer — How to Write Right in the Light

Circa 2009-10
Caption writing dreams, How to write a story

People always advise me that I can do anything I want, in spite of my disability. But my disability, stage-four Friedreich’s Ataxia, is a very complicated one. So I guess I cannot realistically be an astronaut.

But I can be an astronaut on paper.

It is human nature to have dreams. Within our dreams, plot, setting, and characters (the essentials of any tale!) emerge. As long as we have our dreams, we don’t even have to have a vivid imagination. Write our dreams on paper (using proper grammatical skills, of course!) and bingo, we’re well on our way to a notable story.

But what is a story? Stories can be defined in a number of ways. They can be factual or fictional—although most often, a story is regarded as a false account rather than as a truthful report. The key rule for writing a good story, however, is simplicity.

While reading your story, a reader must be invited to believe in it (“Yes, this could happen,” he or she might say, nodding.) Although there are many ways for writers to simulate reality in a story, utilization of dreams allows them to do so in the most effortless way, essentially writing the story as if they were living it.

If you are attempting to generate ideas for a plot of a story, consider drawing from events that you want to happen in your own life. For example, if you want to be a figure skater, write about practices, competitions, or personal rivalries with other skaters.

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The setting should also match your plot—you can’t have an ice skating exhibition in Afghanistan where there are no ice rinks! Besides, I’m sure only few people would dream about going to Afghanistan. There are plenty of fascinating places in the world that do have ice rinks!

It is also helpful to put your persona, goals, and desire into each character of your story. Spread your traits into all of your characters. If you are confident and ambitious, you might give these traits to your protagonist, pitting her against an antagonist who will do anything to stop her.

Make sure to use prim and clear grammatical techniques. Not only do these elements make your story appealing, they help you develop an attractive voice, tone, and style in your work.

Dialogue in your story should demonstrate strong voice and should raise suspense: “Come on,” Prachi said, exasperated. “Get off the phone!”

Notice how commas, periods, capitalization, and quotations are used in the right places in this dialogue, allowing the reader to focus on the story. The reader might now ask himself, “why is Prachi tired and annoyed by a phone call? What has she been doing? Who is she talking to?”

As a writer, you should also be asking yourself these questions—they automatically give you more material to write! If you are able to answer the questions appropriately and write their answers convincingly, the process of creation will be a smoother and more fun experience. But don’t write only speeches in your story or it will become a screenplay!

Don’t be too concerned about the length of your story, but do watch out for repetitive use of a word, or use of too many words that have the same meaning. The flaw of using one word over and over again is called “wordiness.” For example:

“That word obviously has the exact, precise meaning but obviously I can’t use it.”

Doesn’t that line seem a little stupid? As you can see, the word “obviously” only needs to be used once in this example. And since the words “precise” and “exact” have the same meanings, repetitiveness decreases the power of the story’s tone, making the narrative boring.

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Try to match the tone of the story with your own writing style. For example, if you don’t feel comfortable writing with big words, don’t use them! It’s more important to make sure your writing is coherent than to show off. It’s also important to have a sense of character and place. (You can’t have a surfer saying, “Dude, I totally don’t get that,” at Oxford University in England!).

Don’t be afraid to explore during the writing process. Your rough draft shouldn’t be your final draft, it should just include vague ideas of your story. It’s also helpful to try to think of a conclusion before you write down the plot—your starting and ending points should be clear in your mind, even if the in-between scenarios might be unclear.

A good story has the power to make your out-of-reach life come alive. Even if a story seems absurd (maybe yours is about flying humans because you want to fly!), you should write it in a way that makes it believable. JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books might be fantasy, but her writing style makes the world of the story seem convincing (I actually believe that Hogwarts exists!).

With the proper composition, you can do anything you want on paper. But don’t just create an exciting life, live it! Focus on what you can do instead of what you can’t, because that is the best way to learn and the best way to live!

by Pinal “Pinky” Patel


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