Don't be offended at the title. "Teenagers" is just my way of saying "people who write unprofessional/shallow stories." Not all teenagers write shallow stories, it just sounds catchier.... Anyway.
The first thing I want to make clear is: I'm not talking about anything mechanical in this deviation. Grammar/spelling is important (obviously), but that point has been beaten to death by people on the internet already. My purpose, as always, is to talk about the stories themselves, regardless of the way they are communicated. Whether it be through written word or on-the-spot narration, I believe there are certain tricks to telling good stories. Not rules, mind you. Tricks.
I don't believe that telling good stories is about what you "should" do, rather than what you shouldn't. Example: people generally hate Mary Sues, right? Well, sometimes I notice things that are "like" Mary Sues, in the sense that they're equally as shallow/unprofessional ways of telling stories. The purpose of this deviation is to point them out. I won't be talking about Mary Sues or self inserts in this deviation. This is about things that tend to go more unnoticed (I already have deviations about those anyway).
1. Thinking that "most" = best
Sometimes people who write think they're making "the best story ever," because it's the MOST dramatic, MOST dark, MOST romantic MOST (insert your choice of adjective here). Having the most of something doesn't equate to it being the best. Think of it like salt.
Do you ever read a story, and it feels like there was a big hole in it? Maybe it was a tragedy that focused on nothing but tragic events. The author got carried away in their emotions and didn't create a well-rounded world for us to care about while the sad things take place. Sure, sad things are sad, but that is no accomplishment of the author. It would be MORE sad if the audience had a well-created world to be sad about in the first place.
In fanfiction, the writers have the advantage of writing about something that people already care about. That's how a lot of people with barely any imagination can get so many people to like their fanfiction stories. "Hey! Let's take the Once-ler and find a way to drench him in blood! It sure took talent to think of that!"
Never judge someone's imagination by how popular their fanfiction is. Never...
Sometimes people consider themselves to be a certain way. They write certain genres or about certain themes for the sake of adding to their self-proclaimed image. They use their stories as stepping stones (a lot of times without even realizing it) to show off in front of other people. A lot of times it's in the little things, strategically placed to look innocent or humble. "The woman shook her head in admiration at *insert-person-that's-supposed-to-be-like-them's-name.* 'That girl sure is *insert-their-choice-of-adjective!* We may never understand her!"
4. Abusing character roles (sort of a Part 2 of Narcissism)
I want you to think about Belle from Beauty in the Beast for a minute (the Disney version). If you're familiar with it, think of the song sung by the villagers about her in the beginning. Has anyone else ever noticed something...odd about it? The villagers are singing about how different (or "weird") she is, all because she reads books and acts like... well, the average girl you'd meet every day on DeviantArt. Meanwhile, if you met one of those villagers in real life, you'd probably think of THEM as the strange ones (first of all, they're abnormally nosy, all bothering to sing a big song about a perfectly normal girl whose personal life they REALLY bothered to have apparently looked so much into... o_O).
Okay. I understand that can be a strategy in story telling (using the background to add to the general effect of a certain thing... i.e Belle wanting a break from her boring life).
I bring this up however, mostly as a warning. I don't know how...um... healthy it is, that a lot of teenager girls these days really seem to think they're sooo great that they write stories about themselves and use other people as tools to look good. They make people (sometimes fake, sometimes real) in their stories impressed far too easily by themselves (or certain things) sometimes to the point even of contradiction. It falls into the same attitude as the narcissism example.
Sometimes it goes beyond, "Oh, a cute little Disney story," and gets really narcissistic and vain.
A story will suffer if it's written for anything besides the pure pleasure of writing it. Ulterior motives distract from making it the best it possibly can be. Not to mention, nobody likes being used as an audience for people who can't stop shining the spotlight on themselves. (It needed to be said).
Furthermore, Disney movies are corny. It's a fact. That's why we like them. The point is simple: if you are writing a CORNY story, feel free to use their little trick of making the whole world conform to one character/theme (heck, make everyone burst into song about them!) If you're NOT writing a corny story, avoid it at all costs. It's a cheap trick, and it's no substitute for actually making there be something special about whatever character/thing you're trying to make something special about.
Fun fact: "Bully" characters are possibly the biggest form of abuse to story-telling. This can be in the form of a snooty, popular girl at school who picks on the main-character we're supposed to feel sorry for, or in the form of unreasonably/obsessively cruel bullies who are far from even borderline realistic. They're the classic example of cheating in a story; the cheapest way to make other characters seem special or victim-ly.
5. Pretty feelings
Did you ever put on an Owl City song while you were writing/drawing and think something like: Lalalalalala, beautifulness, and the dreams and the beautifullness of the wonderful outerspace, flying through the sky and the shooting stars lalala!
Yeah, we could tell.
No, seriously, it's fine to get your inspiration from wherever you want. Just make sure that while you're getting all into the music that you don't let the emotions that the song brings you be your only guide.
Sometimes people get REALLY excited about their characters or a story they're making up and draw all this beautiful art of it, and you're like, "Hey! That's an amazing picture of the main character on a shooting star! So... when can I read this?!" Then you see the story, and think, "...this is it?"
Don't fall into the trap of thinking that your emotions are the story. A lot of people who listen to music while they write make this mistake, though that isn't to say that listening to music when you write is always automatically bad.
To conclude this, there's really only one thing I want to say. Write because you like to. Write about things you like no matter what they are and force them to fit together. Write about things that you like and wouldn't be too ashamed to show your friends or family. Odds are, if you're too embarrassed to show it to the people you know best, it's not coming from the heart. I don't mean "your emotions" as your heart. It's not really YOU if it's something you're embarrassed of. Embarrassment can be a sign that you know deep down your story might be a wee bit... well, stupid.
And then there are the people with no dignity.......
I love feedback. If anyone has anything interesting to add, I'd be glad to hear!