3 Ways to Spice Up Your Wattpad Stories – Guest Post by Sandi Ward

3 Ways to Spice Up Your Wattpad Stories

Sandi Ward - @sandiwardbooks on Wattpad

by Sandi Ward

(@sandiwardbooks)

Here are three easy ways you can add tremendous flavor to your Wattpad story! Why be generic? Setting, character description, and diversity are important to good writing.

Setting: Where are we?

Once in a while, when reading a Wattpad story, I’m surprised to find I couldn’t tell you what part of the world the story is taking place in even after reading a few chapters. Sometimes new writers forget to describe the setting. The story could be taking place in a high school in China, or it could be California, but I haven’t been given enough information to know.

Setting is one of the key elements of a great story, and can almost become a “character” in itself. In my YA story Everything He Wants, the story takes place in a small, cold New England town on the Massachusetts coast. In Stoneport, rumors spread fast and teenagers get bored and drink too much. There’s a reason the characters are the way they are. The SETTING drives conflict. The more interesting your setting, the more you’re able to create a story that grabs readers with the sights, sounds, smells and feel of really being there.

Character description: Who are these people, and where did they come from?

Sometimes, a new Wattpad author spends two paragraphs describing the outfit the protagonist is wearing (blue shirt, tight jeans, sparkly headband), and never mentions the character’s race or ethnicity. Names are often generic (and trendy), so they don’t let the reader learn anything about the character.

In Everything He Wants, the reader learns that Finn “Sully” Sullivan is a poor Irish-Catholic kid whose firefighter dad doesn’t talk much. His best friend Roger Papadopoulos comes from a big, Greek family where everyone yells at each other. These are important details that impact their personalities, and the way they interact with others. Their BACKGROUNDS drive drama. Any realistic Teen Fiction story where the parents/family never make an appearance falls a little flat for me. In order to get excited about where a character is going and about what he has achieved, it helps to know where he is from.

Diversity: What differences make your characters stand out as special?

Teens come in all shapes, sizes, genders, races, ethnicities, with disabilities or with special abilities, and so on.  Here in the U.S., in a typical high school, usually these kids are mixed together. Giving your characters DIFFERENCES can add tension.
In my novel The Astonishing Thing, one character has a mental illness. Her son has hearing loss. Another character is a minority in an all-white town.  I didn’t set out with a master plan to give my characters this diversity. But if I’m writing a contemporary story, my characters naturally reflect real life. Characters are more interesting when they have challenges to overcome.

Putting it all together.
A book where the characters have bland names and the action takes place in a nameless setting won’t be as strong as a story with specifics. Imagine the characters in your head, and think about where they are. Description doesn’t have to be long or boring. A few short descriptive sentences can make a lot of difference!

About Sandi

Sandi Ward is a medical writer. Her debut novel, THE ASTONISHING THING, will be published by Kensington Books in November 2017. Her teen fiction novel, EVERYTHING HE WANTS, is now Featured on Wattpad.

Find Sandi here:

If you enjoyed this post, click on the Like/share buttons or leave Sandi a comment!

Other tips on characters:

Tips on diversity:

Tips on settings:

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