Books Where The Main.Charaxyers Story Is Only.Told Over Christmas Fiction Writing – Story Construction

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Fiction Writing – Story Construction

To illustrate the process, suppose I get this great (and unoriginal) idea for a story: brutal aliens invade Earth. I first start an electronic file to keep notes on the story. Inevitably, a new idea creates a blizzard of ideas about opening scenes, characters, settings, scenes, plots, snippets of dialogue, potential conflicts. All I do at this point is enter them into the file. Once I judge that I have enough material, I start working on the story but I work in a fashion that is the opposite of the practice of writing a draft as a first step. My primary priority is to determine an acceptable finish.

By acceptable, I mean believable to me, the writer as well as the reader. I often come up with endings that, to my mind, will not satisfy a reader who has agreed to suspend belief for the course of the story. While struggling with this ending, I’ll think of more bits of plot or dialogue or scene settings but there’s no guarantee any of those bits will make it into the manuscript because I don’t know the ending yet. As a result, I can’t tell if this material is suitable for the story.

Why is completion so important? As Robert Mackie tells us in his storybook, much of story construction works backwards, from climax to beginning. It ensures that the dialogue, scenes and conflict take the reader from the beginning of the story to the final action. This guarantees that all plot waypoints are consistent and without detours This illustrates the main problem with trying to write a story before knowing the ending: a writer cannot direct the reader to the story’s conclusion. It does not exist yet! This would result in a great deal of rewriting when eventually discovered, since much of the initial writing would no longer match the story.

For our hypothetical story, once I come up with an ending, I summarize the story in a single sentence: Character X outruns brutal alien invaders and saves the world only to discover his grandmother is an alien intruder. The importance of this sentence is that it channels the actions of the characters as the story moves towards its climax. For example, Character X – the hero – needs to defeat the invaders, so killing them all in an explosion would violate the essence. The ending and plot summary can also influence the character sketches I create. If I had previously thought of X as a muscle man, I now know he would need more brains than Brown to stay within the parameters of the story.

If I haven’t already done so, my next step is to fill out the cast of characters so that I have character Y as X’s sidekick and Z as the alien commander who will be the antagonist.

With these characters in place, I needed a plot problem for Z and Z to contend with. In this case, it’s pretty obvious that the plot problem is the aliens leaving Earth, and in most cases, the plot problem is easy to grasp once you discover the ending.

Now I can create a plot where X tries to defeat Z, only to fail. Several times. Finally, in desperation, X tries again and succeeds (or not!) As the plot unfolds, I’m sure it leads the story to a foregone conclusion. Any encounters or actions that do not meet this requirement are removed because they are semantic confusions.

By now, I have a pretty good idea of ​​the story, characters, and ending, and I use these to write a story summary. As I see it it is a four to eight paragraph summary story. In fact, it is a road map for telling the story and reaching the climax. It serves a check on the story itself. If the synopsis doesn’t satisfy me as a writer and reader, more work needs to be done to build the story. As the story previews, I ask myself who would want to read it? If I can’t honestly answer ‘yes’, it’s back to the construction process. This underscores the great benefits of the process. If the synopsis shows it needs more work, I invest a few hundred words on it instead of thousands on a full short story. For example, in a story I’m working on now, the story summary shows that the ending was dull but there was a thrilling action scene in the middle of the story. Since the climax has to be the best part of the story, I took the middle scene, rewrote it and put it at the end. This change requires less than five minutes of work. If I hadn’t seen this problem until I had completed the manuscript, it would have required a long revision to accomplish the same change.

I must emphasize that the summary of the story is a critically important step because if the summary doesn’t sing, the story won’t either.

The last step is to develop the story scenes. A story synopsis provides a guideline for determining how many scenes will be needed. Some stories will only need one or two and others may need six or seven scenes to tell a complete short story. This is where I decide how to space the characters’ descriptions, assigning material to different scenes so that the descriptions don’t come together in a jumble that stops the action. Ideally, each scene will take place in a different location so setting ideas need to be developed and sketched out here as well.

Finally, I’m ready to write the first draft that threatens to tear me apart and the writing sessions are fun. Often I can get a complete draft of four to five thousand words written in three sessions. Next comes the agony of editing and proofreading. Followed by marketing woes.

Since no two writers are the same, there can be no single process that will be right for everyone. This is the process that works best for me and I’ve developed it over a few years of trial and error. Some writers will see merit in parts of this and adapt aspects that will work for them. The process works equally well for short stories or novels. With novels, I repeat the process for each main plot and each subplot.

Currently, I have over a dozen potential story notes and character sketches. None of these stories have an ending (yet!) and as a result, I haven’t written a single word of the manuscript (yet!). A recent story I finished is a character and a situation I created two years ago. At that time, I could never find a suitable climax nor could I come up with the motivation of the character. Earlier this year, I reviewed my notes again and the ending and inspiration popped into my head. Then and only then, do I move on to the next step of story building. Not all stories take that long. Often, the time from the initial idea of ​​a short story to the final draft happens rather quickly.

Some writers may object to this process on the grounds that it reduces writing a story to a series of tasks; Simply fill out the form. On the surface, it might seem that way, but this process doesn’t replace creativity, it guides it so it focuses on developing the necessary story elements. This approach may seem limiting to other writers who want their characters to listen and follow their lead, but it really isn’t. This process channels these characters so they don’t take away from the story and take the author on unnecessary journeys. I find that the characters have plenty of room to roam around, but their rambles will be limited to the story I’ve created. This effectively prevents characters from moving to a different story. After all, who is in charge of telling the story? The author or the characters? In my story, I

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