Five Steps to Creating a Story

Jul 28, 2019
5 steps to a story

Here's how to create a story:

1. Know it

An experience or circumstances of which you have direct knowledge as a participant or an outsider looking in

2. See it

Translate it - to a different time or place or different gender main character - to create arms-length distance to get a more 'divine' perspective on the matter

3. Apply Pity 

Feel for the flaw or failing of the hero taking this journey and appreciate their charisma (magic or personal charm which will prove an amulet to protect them and deliver them to a safe place to find themselves 'beloved' on this earth)

flaw + charisma

4. Own it

Take your most loved book of all time, consider why you love it. If it's a genre - a period of history, or speculative treatment sci-fi or fantasy - or a human psycho-drama or thriller - now's the time to own up to it. What is it about it? A mood? A place? A mode of discourse? A kind of human intimacy? A sense that anything is possible or that everything is impossible. Humour? Mischief?  A flight of fancy? Great moral power? Doom? Name that novel in one. Now - there's your treatment.  Take what you love about one of your favourite books or movies and apply the poignancy that touches you most here.

5. Bring it - Routine

All you need next is a writing habit, slow and steady daily application, and that's what we graft onto your life with our novel writing courses, with the daily lesson to direct and guide you. We support you to stay on track, you'll write to the end.

You may or may not revise the novel many times. Most writers do. A slow steady write at 500 words a day might make for fewer re-drafts. But then it might not. As you re-draft you come up against the problem of time and the spinning seasons, you have to guard against too many new ideas and possibilities as your life changes and try to keep the seed premise you identified at first.

You will know when it's done, when you've been been merciful to your hero on their journey and on reflection you can't have been more just or fair than you've been.

As those of you who follow us on Instagram will have seen, writers methods are pretty consistent. Working usually until 2pm and no more, but routinely, the art is in the re-draft. Anne Tyler's method (see our Insta or FB page) is multiple re-drafts, from computer to pen and back again, via reading aloud to keep the translucent quality of the story alive and realistic. 

I've found a great way to test your prose with Natural Reader with natural-sounding voices reading your work back to you. Something to use in the last days of your last draft, a real boon. You can hear what's wrong!

You'll close by wanting to look at the seed of the story again and see if you've honoured its component parts.

If you have you will have produced a story that only you could tell, your way.

And that - my dears - is the secret to success.

Finally, a word of warning, there is one element that can cause your novel to fail, and that is too great an autobiographical component in the novel. Where the main character is too close to the author, the novel will gutter out at about 30k as the writer becomes increasingly disgusted with the heroine or hero. Generally, our heroes or heroines must be better than us. Know what you love about your hero, know what's holding her or him back. Ensure that even most superficially they do not resemble you and you will be writing a fiction story with confidence and pleasure, vacating your own life for an hour day with joy.



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