Using the all time classic by Dickens, A Christmas Carol, below are eight very important tips every budding writer must employ to create a masterpiece;
- Write a story that resonates. Dickens hits on all of the factors that drive a good story. A complex main character (Scrooge). Timing (Christmas time). Setting (London). Values (kindness, forgiveness, repentance, restitution). Uniqueness (The Ghosts of Christmas past, present and future). Conflict (Scrooge’s internal struggle to choose between love or money). Crisis (His impending death), Climax (His moment of decision). Resolution (His change of heart). Conclusion (Restored relationships, Tiny Tim survives).
- Start with a memorable character. Who could be more memorable than Ebenezer Scrooge? Read the first few pages of the story. See how Dickens describes him. Incredible. Scrooge has left an indelible mark on all of us. We love him despite his flaws.
- Write what you know. Dickens knew London; he lived there. He knew poverty; his parents were sent to debtors’ prison while he, at 12, worked in a warehouse for six shillings a week. He drew on the experiences of his life to depict the plight of the poor.
- Write with passion. Dickens’ sister-in-law wrote that she had never seen him write with such fervor than when he wrote A Christmas Carol. In just six weeks he wrote a story for the ages. Within two months of its debut, eight theater companies adapted and mounted the story on stage. Critics hailed it “a national institution” a year later. It would become his most memorable work. He was 31.
- Set your subconscious to work. Like so many writers, Dickens got away from his work—to do his work. His sister-in-law once reported that he “walked about the black streets of London, fifteen or twenty miles, many a night” while plotting this compelling story.
- Introduce an innovative element. Dickens used common literary techniques such as flashback and flash-forward devices. Yet, he did it creatively with the Ghosts of Christmas past, present and future.
- Maintain a disciplined writing schedule. As I mentioned earlier, Dickens wrote steadily and fervently and completed it in six weeks. While there is not much detail concerning his actual writing schedule, it’s clear he pushed himself to achieve a deadline, self-imposed or otherwise. His masterpiece was published on December 19, 1843. It has gripped us for 168 years.
- Give the reader something to chew on. This is perhaps the crowning achievement of this classic tale. It gives us pause every time we read it or see it. A question always lingers in my head. How can my life benefit others?
Courtesy: The Writer’s Refuge