What’s in a story? A lot of words – right, but what else? We take for granted the author’s creativity. Their hours toiling over scenarios, building plots, breathing life into characters, and let us not forget that they strive to make it all believable should not be overlooked. So how does a writer get started? That’s the purpose of this post; understanding what pieces of the puzzle writers use to join puddles of words together for a meaningful story. Think of story building as parts of a body.
It all begins (for the most part) with an outline: the bones to start building upon. This is where a story forms. We need to come up with a beginning, middle (climax), and an end. Where better to start than with the skeletal structure of an outline. Whether you draw it up like a bracket for a game tournament or as a giant arch, an outline is just a guide to point your story in the right direction.
From here it is easy to draw in branches for intriguing subplots, add minor rolls for characters to interact with the main ones, and stabilize the backbone to the whole story. Writing an outline is also very much like pruning a tree – cut away the dead from the main story before it kills your story. Doing this will eliminate hours of writing useless distractions that could be better spent on relevant story building.
A concern about sub-plotting is how minor characters are used in a story. Creating strife within the story is always a good idea, but don’t go too far. Are the twists to titillate the readers curiosity and broaden a stagnating story or are you sent the character off into the deep end without teaching them how to swim? Reel them in before too many story threads tie up your story.
The best thing to remember is focus on the main character(s) throughout the whole process. Think about how you intend to reach the climax and work towards it. Resolve any issue you’ve created for the character either before, during, or shortly after the main conflict to bring a nice closing to your story.
Believe it or not – you just wrote a story. There is a lot more to do, but this is where it all begins. We still have four more parts to cover yet. In the coming weeks I will elaborate on four more parts to building a story. My posts will be as short, and albeit frank, but I hope you are able to learn a little from each posting. Come back to learn more.
About the Author:
Adam Santo was born and raised in Southern California before joining the Army for his short lived career as a soldier in Colorado Springs. Currently living and writing in Florida with his family and faithful dog, Copper. He has written the Temperature Trilogy and a short story, Ocean’s Fury, to date.