Last time I left some words here that weren’t related to book reviews I made a bit of noise about how if I wanted to be a proper writer I had to start acting like one. You know, stuff like actually writing words and editing stuff to keep my writing circuits fresh and active. And I bet you’re all wondering how that’s going, right?
On the wall above my writing desk I have two pieces of motivational advice that I printed out a few years ago. They both basically say the same thing: that to be a writer you need to act like one. Up until now they’ve just been bits of paper that I occasionally look at and think, ‘I really should pay more attention to those,’ but as of last Thursday I’ve actually started to take the wisdom they impart to heart.
And so the year of twenty-fourteen is over, a new year has begun, and I’m wondering what, if anything, all of this means for me. I’m still not published, still don’t really have anything concrete or positive to show for all of the work I’ve done, still haven’t kept good on the vague promises I made almost two years ago and still feel like all I’m doing is kicking my heels and wasting my time. So what’s the point, really?
Other than posting my monthly lists of books read I’ve been absent from this blog for a short while, though I assure you it’s all in a good cause. I’ve been busy with a number of projects, some writing related, some not so much, and as a result I haven’t had all that much time spare to keep this place in good order. Ho hum.
In the first two articles of this series we looked at the basics of story structure and how to use that structure to build an effective outline for a story or novel. If you’ve been following along with the advice from those articles you should now have an outline of your story, and may have even completed a chapter-by-chapter breakdown of your novel. Now it’s time to populate your story and to do this we need to work on some character sketches.
In the first article of this series I spoke about the importance of structure and the four main building blocks of any story. This time I want to talk about how to take those building blocks and use them to create an effective outline, starting from a single sentence and eventually building up to a fully realised beat-by-beat breakdown of your story or novel.
It’s an accepted truism that anybody can write or tell a story. However, not everybody can tell a good story, one that engages the listener (or reader) and makes us want to know more. Writing a good story requires at the very least a basic understanding of a few simple rules and guidelines for constructing a story, as well as an imaginative and interesting subject for that story. In the case of the latter (the subject) there aren’t really any hard and fast rules and every writer will have their own approach to generating the ideas for their stories. However, the technical aspects of storytelling are fairly straightforward, even if they can take a lifetime to master.
In this article I want to take a look at the basic building blocks of a story’s structure, the essential elements that are the basis of almost every short story or novel you will ever read and which will form the foundation on which you will later build your narrative structure.