Since we’re in the first few days of January, I’m still in a reflective mood. I realised last year that I have been writing for about 10 years now, so it makes sense for me to look over my previous stories I’ve written. I’ve decided to share these stories with you to show you how much you can improve in 10 years and to prove to myself I have gotten better.
My first official story, which I began back when I was 13 years old.
Granted, I never got beyond three pages before giving up since I realised I had no idea what teenage spies would learn at a spy school. Additionally, I am rubbish at coming up with story titles, so since this never went beyond even a rough draft, there was never a proper title.
The story that I had planned was for Maria and Jason to become teenage spies. However, the plot didn’t really form (except the ending) and I struggled to write it.
This extract proves why the writing rules can be important, especially for beginning writers.
Describing my characters in that much detail is time consuming and boring, and while it tells us something about the friendship between Maria and Jason, this could all be condensed down into a single paragraph. In fact, this entire first page is unnecessary.
Back then, I thought a chapter was 2-3 pages long and it was an accomplishment if I made it to a third page for a chapter. I also didn’t realise most people used the tab button to make their paragraphs and I used to just press the spacebar three times. I’ve come a long way since then! But these are the little things you learn as you continue to write.
My Happy Ending
This story was the first story I actually managed to nearly finish. I think I had one more chapter to go before I stopped. I even went as far as to ask some friends for some critique, although it was this critique that made me realise my story wouldn’t work.
The story centres around Star, a member of the royal family, who gets left at home while her parents and sister visit some family friends abroad. However, things don’t go to plan as her evil uncle takes over and she’s forced to run away with Jack, her frenemy.
As you can see, it’s very… bland. First drafts usually are. The sentences are very ‘I did this. I did that. It hurt.’ It doesn’t vary in length much and doesn’t really offer much. However, I’ll give myself credit for the dialogue. It doesn’t sound fully natural, but it does a good job at showing the relationship between the characters. Dialogue has always been my strongest aspect.
A little insight: this is actually the scene I envisioned when I first came up with this story after visiting a palace in Venice. However, when I did another draft, I decided to drop this scene altogether. But it’s interesting to see my initial idea flesh out into a full story.
With this version, I wanted to describe my characters but since I wasn’t very good at incorporating it in, I had a character description before chapter one.
My descriptions did improve, but again, I was still like ‘I did this. I did that.’ I could’ve varied the sentence lengths a bit more. The dialogue improved to sound like a conversation between two humans instead of ‘let’s tell the reader pivotal information in the dialogue’.
I could honestly sit here and tell you all the plot points I’m already cringing over, but I’ll refrain. But that’s another important skill to have. If you can look at your work objectively, it’ll definitely help when it comes to editing.
The Day My Life Changed
This story is the classic ‘celebrity falls in love with a fan’ story, which is thanks to me finding out Kevin Jonas was (at the time) dating a fan. Although, I later found out Danielle Jonas wasn’t a fan, but back then, that was big. I’d never heard of a celebrity dating a fan until then, so naturally, I came up with this story. Unfortunately, as I was writing this story, ‘Starstruck’ came out and it was almost exactly the plot I was writing.
By this stage, I finally learnt how to use the tab button. I also figured out how to use sentence length properly. I wanted to try first person and it honestly helped so much with description, sentence length and character voice. Even the dialogue isn’t bad. Although, I used a tad too many exclamation marks and probably a few cliches.
When Two Worlds Collide
This story was supposed to be about a fairy who goes to a human’s bedroom and makes friends with them. However, I never finished it because I didn’t really have a good plot. Most the time, I used to just write stories and hoped for the best, but I now realise that just doesn’t work with me. I need a vague outline to keep me going.
I immediately start with a cliche: waking up. Most editors don’t like it when a story opens on someone waking up, so just in case you were considering doing so, don’t. Not unless they wake up to something unusual. Although, in my case, I could do so since it isn’t a human waking up but a fairy. In fact, in a redraft, I did describe her bedroom in more detail.
Where Fate Takes Us
I’m still working on this story, but I’ve put it to the side for now while I work on my fantasy story. Although, these characters are now involved in that story.
The story centres around four* strangers who audition for a band and become famous musicians.
*It was five but I got rid of one
It’s all good and well for me to continue showing the first paragraph, but sometimes, the first few paragraphs aren’t great. This is three chapters in.
I’m noticing in my first drafts, I use ‘I’ a lot if it’s first person. But I do have a good character voice. In this particular story, my dialogue is the strongest its ever been.
Secrets & Lies
This story has changed so much since I started it. In fact, I’m still working on it, except I’ve changed the title to ‘Untitled’ since this title doesn’t fit anymore.
In the first version, Lily is an ordinary girl who finds out about magic through Felix and the mysterious house that leads to a magical world.
In the second version, I changed Lily to Zoe, and Zoe is a witch who lives in a magical world. But she ends up on Earth and struggles to get home again.
The latest version is actually told from the antagonist’s perspective, but I’m still working on the plot.
I noticed the typo with ‘my Rose’, which is supposed to be ‘my sister Rose’.
The description needs work, but it’s only a bit of tweaking. It sets the scene and tells us about Lily’s relationship with her family, which is good to include.
This is perhaps one of the best scenes I’ve written. It has minimal description and shows the relationship between the characters, as well as what the characters are like. It also doesn’t have the usual problem I face of ‘I did this. I did that.’
It now looks like I’m guilty of making my sentences too long, if anything. I haven’t improved much since on describing a character having a crush. At least this particular section doesn’t have tons of cliches. Also, writing in third person helped me get rid of the ‘I did this. I did that.’ problem and helped me use more description. It doesn’t compromise the character voice too much either.
As you can see, 10 years can do a lot in terms of improvement. I’ve learnt where my writing was weak and improved it. Even now, I’m still constantly learning and improving so I can be as good as I can be.
How long have you been writing for? Have you seen much improvement in your writing?