ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Write Better Stories

Updated on August 11, 2015

There are good writers and those who aspire to be good writers. What makes a writer successful? Simply put, you have to know the basics of good journalism. Without taking time to learn them, it’s doubtful you’ll ever write a good story.

First and very important are spelling, grammar and punctuation. Nothing is more frustrating to readers than misspelled words and incorrectly constructed sentences. This immediately clues your audience in to whether they’re dealing with a professional or novice. Always keep a dictionary within reach.

Now take a look at your beginning paragraph, referred to as a”lead’. Is it interesting, novel or eye catching? The first two sentences will either hook your reader or send them searching for better literary material. It has to reach out, grab them by their shirt collar and pull them in. Let’s face it. There’s lots’ of competition for well written articles.

Include The Five W's

Your first paragraph should include the five W’s… who, what, where, when, why and sometimes how. The second paragraph should expand on the first incorporating details of secondary importance. Your third paragraph will comprise the “body”. Most writers use a method called the “Inverted Pyramid”. Simply put, information is inserted into your story in order of importance. The inverted pyramid tool is utilized mainly in hard news, sports writing, features and editorials. But it’s a good general rule of thumb to follow in any kind of story.

Now, we’ll return to the subject of leads. There are several types. One is a question lead, such as “Are you a good writer?” There’s nothing wrong with that. However, question leads are usually considered weak by professional writers. Quote leads would also fit into this category. But that’s not always the case. Many factors can contribute to your decision whether to use these types of leads. Who is your audience? Is your story aimed at a mature demographic or a younger one? Children usually respond well to a question lead. Get the idea?

Another example is the “bright” lead, usually accompanied with exclamation points and is original, imaginative, exciting or informative. Look at the one used in this article. Did it get your attention? If you’re still reading, it worked. There are a variety of different leads. Which one you use will be decided by your subject matter and targeted audience.

Another factor in determining whether your readers will stay put is sentence length. Never exceed 37 words per sentence. Try breaking a longwinded sentence into several smaller ones.

There are other aspects to good journalism also. For example, use of transitions. This is nothing more than tying subject matter of one paragraph into your next as seamlessly as possible. Good, simple examples of this would be single coined words such as However, Furthermore, Although, Next, etc. Other transitions’ may include two or more words like, “In addition to”, “For example” and “Later on”. (Watch as the transition takes place here.)

Furthermore, there are other elements to good writing to be observed. Any professional journalist worth their salt will point out the key element for success is “BREVITY”. Keeping your story brief and to the point is critical. Whether it’s printed media or other platform. Space and time are money to newspapers, magazines, books, or wherever else you desire to publish your material.

Shorten Your Story

How can you shorten your story and keep it intact? Continually read your material while writing. You’ll find in most cases you can delete “the” and “that” and replace “and” with a comma. Find shorter ways to say the same thing in fewer words. Or (Find shorter ways to say something.) See how that works?

Another trap beginning writers fall into is trying to impress everyone with their command of the English language, using big, fancy-sounding vocabulary. Avoid this practice. If people can't understand the words you're using, you've lost them. According to professionals, the average person (your audience), reads at an 8th grade level. So, write accordingly.

Something else readers hate is repetition of the same words over and over. A good thesaurus can aid you in finding different and better words to get your message across.

This little guide should assist wannabe writers to improve their journalistic skills. It is by no means all inclusive, but rather a collection of tips to follow.

Professional writers are not born…they’re made.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • JY3502 profile imageAUTHOR

      John Young 

      7 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      I appreciate your comments Sheila. Just things I've learned over the years. Not all found in a book.

    • SheliaKay profile image


      7 years ago from Marietta, Ohio..... but born and raised in Northern Ohio on Lake Erie

      Very informative. Thanks for the tips. you've got my vote.

    • Ms Dee profile image

      Deidre Shelden 

      7 years ago from Texas, USA

      Great collection of tips! Have bookmarked to remind myself periodically :)

    • idreesfarooq profile image


      8 years ago from fiverr dot com/idreesfarooq

      Nice Hub. I appreciate your work. Keep posting! Voted up

    • JY3502 profile imageAUTHOR

      John Young 

      8 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      John takes a bow. Thank you!

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      Great little guide! Bookmarked and voted up!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)