Category Archives: Writing Fiction

Story

What is a story?

We all tell stories every day. We hope to captivate our listeners into having an emotional response; for example when we are telling our children about how we received a special letter of recommendation for a job well done,  we hope our children will feel pride in us. Or we gossip, hoping to turn the listener to discrediting any value they previously put into the person who is the object of our conversation. Negative stories generally hit the news faster than anything and people are all too eager to share bad things that happen in their day.

Why is this?

Because deep at heart, we are always trying to portray ourselves as a hero. We are the center of our story. It’s us against the world. If we can rally others to our way of thinking, we can become leaders. Get enough followers and you will be a great leader. Even horrible news stories, are at a deep and usually unspoken level, about the people that survived, got through it, and won the day. The dead tell no tales. It’s true that history is written by the victors. No one wants to hear from those that lost.

But what makes a good fictional story?

A fiction story is all about how a character faces danger. Danger doesn’t have to be life threatening. Danger can be a spouse having an affair, where a wife (and hero of our story) fears that she will be out on the street if her husband leaves her.

For more examples and a deeper discussion of story, check out my book, The Write Edit.

How is your character facing danger? What do they have to lose and what do they think will happen if they lose it?

Get started

I thought we’d play a little game to get the ball rolling. Shall we begin?

What’s the most important part of writing?

Quick, think of your answer! Five — four — three — two — one. What’s your answer?

Did you say, “Having an idea?” Or what about a character? Do you need that to start writing? Maybe you think you need a computer. Word processing software. Oh, oh, what about a program like First Draft which will help you develop your plot. That’s a must-have, right?

Or is it about putting your butt in the chair and doing the work? Half-an-hour or more of uninterrupted time to yourself to think? What is the most important thing?

I’m might surprise you here — you don’t need any of that. None!

It’s great to have an idea for a story or, as what often happens to me, a character that you want to write about, but people write non-fiction based on something they know everyday, so those things aren’t necessary to write. You can write on a computer, or with a typewriter, or with a pen and paper. You can write on a voice recorder and have someone transcribe it later. So there is no required hardware. There is no need for fancy software either. So, the answer must be in making the time, right? Nope! I’ve written standing up in the line at the supermarket, and I’ve used both my smartphone and pencil and paper to do this several times. I often spend 10-15 minutes writing in the morning before I get ready for the Day Job. I’ve recorded passages for my book while driving to work — one of the reasons I always take the country roads to work instead of the highway. The phone just sits on the seat beside me while I yammer and drive along at 50 miles per hour.  I can’t imagine trying to do this at 80 with so many other people on the road. After all, you never drive just for yourself, but for everyone else on the road too! (Great advise my father gave me a long time ago and I think more people need to hear. Speech over.)

So what’s the most important part of writing?

Getting the words down. It doesn’t matter what you write, fiction or non-fiction, the most important is getting it out of your brain onto something that you can edit later. Nothing matters until you get started.

Here’s a little experiment I’m going to run:

I have a story titled The Dragons of Wellsdeep and I’m currently writing it. Each week, I’ll post one page from the story and we’ll edit it. I have no idea where the story is going — it’s not that well developed. I’m just writing and trusting the process. We’ll build this story from the ground up. Normally, I would write the whole manuscript before going back and editing, but for the sake of giving good examples for you to learn from, you’ll share this journey with me. I might end up getting several chapters in and end up scrapping the whole thing because it isn’t working. We’ll see. But I have faith in the process and I’m being led to share this journey with you in this fashion.

Here’s our schedule:

On Thursdays, I’ll release a blog post about writing or editing to help you with the process. Here’s where I will edit someone else’s work or answer a question from you (find out how to submit your work or your question here). Don’t be shy. Anything you submit will help someone else too.

On Sundays, I’ll release the page for The Dragons of Wellsdeep as well as my current thoughts about the manuscript and potential edits I will make. Your comments are welcomed too.

Let’s get started, shall we?