Story writing tips

Tips to help you start on your literary journey

These four simple questions will help you focus in on the type of story you would like to tell.

  • Who is your Story about?
  • What is your story about?
  • Where is your story based (what place, time is your story set)?
  • Why are you writing this story?

Thinking about your story further:

Theme: A theme is something important the story tries to tell us—something that might help us in our own lives. Not every story has a theme, but it’s best if it does.

Plot: Plot is most often about a conflict or struggle that the main character goes through. The conflict can be with another character, or with the way things are, or with something inside the character, like needs or feelings. The basic steps of a plot are: conflict begins, things go right, things go wrong, final victory (or defeat), and wrap-up.

Story Structure: At the beginning, jump right into the action. At the end, wind up the story quickly.

First person or third person: decide about writing the story either in “first person” or in “third person.” Third-person pronouns are “he,” “she,” and “it”—so writing in third person means telling a story as if it’s all about other people. The first-person pronoun is “I”—so writing in first person means telling a story as if it happened to you.

Past or present tense: Decide about writing either in “present tense” or in “past tense.” Writing in past tense means writing as if the story already happened. That is how most stories are written. Writing in present tense means writing as if the story is happening right now. Stick to one tense or the other!

Characters: Before you start writing, know your characters well.

  • Your main character should be someone readers can feel something in common with, or at least care about.
  • You don’t have to describe a character completely. It’s enough to say one or two things about how a character looks or moves or speaks.
  • A main character should have at least one flaw or weakness. Perfect characters are not very interesting. They’re also harder to feel something in common with or care about. And they don’t have anything to learn. In the same way, there should be at least one thing good about a “bad guy.

Setting: Set your story in a place and time that will be interesting or familiar.



  • Ultimately make sure you tell a story you would want to read. Don’t worry if you think your idea is ‘out of the box’ or that it is different from your friends, this is what will make your story 100% you.
  • Write what you know – it is always much easier to write about something you are interested in, so if you have a passion for a princess or an affinity with aliens, work these into your story
  • Have fun!