What does it take to write a story? Part one

Website logo imageI grew up around different beliefs when it comes to writing. Some people think it's idleness, others think it's only crazy people who write…well I can't deny there's some truth to that, while others just can't seem to grasp it at all,but for the most part, people think writing fiction is easy.

What I started doing was asking these people to write a story to even come up with a plot. I don't remember ever having one of these people submitting their ideas to me. That's the end of naysayers. I am here to tell you that as a fiction and non-fiction writer, fiction is harder to pen that fact. It may come as a surprise to many because fact requires research and verification. Well take a look at what it entails to write a story and make up your own mind.

Concept or idea building  

Every story starts with an idea no matter how simple. When you get the idea you decided how the story will turn out. Writers know the end of a story before it is written and they know the basic idea of the beginning, middle and the end. 

From there, they start to build around the story. First they determine what length they want the story to be. Sometimes the idea itself will tell them which category it falls into, whether it's flash, short story, novelette, novella or novel. Based on the desired word count you start your outline of all the elements and characters you want in the piece. By the time you are done the outline you may have added quite a number of twists and turns.You'll also need to have your basic summary and description written down. I usually do this before I do the outline so that I have a reference.



Surprised, aren't you? 

Have you ever read a piece of fiction that you swear isn't fiction at all? The writer describes places, events and people that are real, to give the reader a chance to participate in the story. Most great stories require research, whether it's sci-fi or romance. I am a romance writer and I don't remember ever writing a story without some sort of research. Sometimes it's just a simple verification on a subject or intense research on time periods, places, food, language, people or events.

I love using real places in my stories. This gives the reader a point of reference they can relate to. If you are making up a location it has to be so that the reader can visualize it easily. I once used a fake place in a story, but the description was partially of a real place.

Also, if I am writing a story set in France, I need to know the culture, food, dress, language and anything there is to know about the place.

Research may take more time than the actual writing because there are so many sources to read from and the writer needs to have a clear visual in their head before deciding to settle on a source.


Character Development

Most stories have characters. Well, I've never read a story without a character but that could happen. I was thinking of trying a scenic story, no people.

Choose your characters well. You have to know your character. Writers spend a lot of time picturing what the main characters will look like, their personalities, likes and dislikes. If it's a romance they make sure that the couple are a match. Have you ever read a story where the male and female leads just didn't seem to fit? Truth be told, many of the new books on the market with these new writers, seem to fit that well. You get the impression that the writers have no idea how to create compelling couples that click. I see reviews on books where readers complain that the male lead was too much of a jerk or the female was confusing. Most times there is just no chemistry or emotional involvement. 

When I choose my characters my male lead must be likable, sometimes instantly or gradually. But no reader should tell me that the main man was hard to like. I have read stories just like that. In addition, your antagonist should never outshine your protagonist unless you have a twist coming where the antagonist turns into the actual hero. You have to be great to do that.

I was working on a story and the idea came to us to use a Hugh Jackman look alike for the antagonist, but that was a bad idea. Not only is Hugh famous, he is liked by millions and is extremely good looking. If we used a Hugh Jackman description as our antagonist we may upset the female populous…lol. I didn't think it would go off so well, not in that piece anyway. The guy was already very in-your-face, so to speak so we had to tone down his look so as not to overshadow the main lead.

In addition to developing your character traits, you must choose appropriate names. I usually write my description and let my gut tell me the name of the characters. However, most times the names come to me with the actual idea.

Your character must have a face, personality, thought pattern and direction no matter how simple. Compelling stories have characters with emotions and feelings. Not just motions and patterns. The reader must get into the mind of the character so the character can resonate with them.


Story direction

So you have heard of a story arc. According to experts there are eight point to writing a good story:

  1. Stasis
  2. Trigger
  3. The quest
  4. Surprise
  5. Critical choice
  6. Climax
  7. Reversal
  8. Resolution

I will elaborate on these points in part two. Got to go back to work now. Thanks for reading.


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