Every story has an idea behind it. That idea gives meaning to the story and is developed into the plot which is the basic structure of the story. Without an idea or plot your story will be empty and meaningless.
The next steps we will take go hand in hand so the order I will go might not be the order you will choose. It is okay, start with whichever way you like. In the end you will jump from one to the other and back again, it is a mixed process: coming up with an idea, creating the characters and the world, finding out the goals of your characters, the conflicts and putting everything together to get the plot and from that the story itself. This is something you almost do at the same time.
I’ve started my story with my protagonist. I created her, I know how she looks like and I feel her personality. At first I wasn’t sure what kind of a person she is, but I still felt a few things about her. I gave time for her to reveal herself to me. Now I understand her better, although she has not yet defined her true characteristic. I believe she will show more of herself as the story goes.
After I have imagined her I created a world around her. Where does she live, what is she doing? These were my questions. Her profession had changed many times, and I’ve still not decided on the final one. The world itself is not yet ready, I will add more detail to it as soon as I have the other characters. At the moment I have two more characters in mind. I will spend the next weeks on working on them. But before that there is something else to do. A very important thing as I believe the success of the story relies on this a lot.
The idea behind the story
I am talking about the main idea of the story and the plot that is developed from it. The idea is the heart of your story while the plot is the skeleton. The idea is basically the story summarised in one sentence. Here are some examples:
- A man founds himself in an alternate verison of his city and he wants to get back to his real home.
- A bookbinder unintentionally reads evil characters out of a book and don’t know how to send them back.
- A lonely man width a powerful medallion fights against corruption and tyranny.
What is your idea, how can you summarize your story?
The plot is a series of events, that will let your protagonist and the other characters get from the starting point to the finish line. The plot comes from your main idea and it will be developed into the story. It is the main structure of the story. If you have the plot you can’t go wrong with your story. Why? Because you will know when and where will things happen, and you can easily follow the story. You can change parts of it, change the orders, delete or add scenes to make a good flow of the story. You can edit the plot as much as you want until you are satisfied with it. This won’t even take too long and you will ensure that your story has a meaning and a good ending.
Decide on a basic plot
We will now work on deciding the base plot. Here are a few questions to get you started: What is the goal of your protagonist? What does he/she want to reach? This question seems so easy yet when I’ve first asked this from myself I couldn’t answer it. What does she want to do and why? What stands between her and her goal? If you can answer these questions you will see your story more clearer.
To guide your idea further to the end of the story there is one more thing to decide: will your protagonist reach his/her goal?
I believe this will be enough to get your story going. In the next weeks we will check how to create good characters, and how to set up your story. We will work more on the plot, so you will have a strong base for your story.
Here are the steps to do until next week:
- Write down your main idea in one sentence
- Answer these questions:
- What is the goal of your protagonist?
- Why does he want to reach that goal?
- What stands in his way?
- Will he reach his goal?
As you answer these questions you might “find” some new characters and ideas along the way – that is good a thing, welcome they! This is how your little world will develop on its own. I like when characters just appear from nowhere. You will also get new ideas, conflicts and more for your story. Note these ideas down so you can return to them later.
Here are some helpful and detailed articles about plot creation if you want to learn more about the topic:
- http://www.robertweinberg.net/howtowrite.htm – second half of the page is the best
See you next week and enjoy working on your story!