Key Steps in Writing a Story
Becoming a master storyteller takes time. For a concept to bloom into a riveting plot, there must be a technique that should keep your imagination flowing freely.
Most writers don’t stick to a linear writing fashion, however. This creates moments of confusion on what elements should comprise the actual writing process.
Today, we try to explore key steps that can lubricate your current process of story writing.
Take note; there is no right or wrong way to start a beautiful story. The story writing steps we will share simply aims to assist you as you swim into your headspace, cultivate and bring different writing elements together.
Grab your pen and stationery, and let’s get started.
Step # 1: Find out the essence of your story
Establish why your story should exist. Millions of books are being published every year, targeting different readers through unique genres. What makes your story any different?
In finding the heart of why your story should be worth a reader’s time, all you need is a sentence or two concretizing your writing journey. Let’s break this step down into smaller sub-steps:
- Think of a premise—a sentence which condenses your entire story. You will use this as a handle as you go through the process of developing your story.
- Imagine a moment where your main character’s choices and actions all boils down to. This will give arms and legs to the essence or premise of your entire story.
- Ask yourself, ‘What reality or essence of life you want your target audience to realize once they read your story.’ This will help you maintain focus in developing your plot, and the scenes that are to be weaved together.
- Construct a puzzle. By having an idea what mission your main character should solve, a rough concept of a ‘story puzzle’ can help you avoid filling in your story with empty fluff.
- Give the audience a taste of essential life. To wrap up this step, try to dissect deeper into the premise of your story. Will this captivate your target readers? Is there enough essence in your story that will make your reader flip another chapter? Think about these guide questions as you move to the next step.
Step # 2: Define your setting
As a good writer, you should know that setting doesn’t only highlight a place but also time. Will your story begin at an intersection in downtown New York during the early nineties? Is it a story that starts with a scene in the demilitarized zone dividing North and South Korea in the present year? The possibilities of painting an exciting setting are endless.
Bear these few tips in mind before you start jotting those creative juices:
- Identify the best place and time where your story should happen.
- Be as specific as possible.
- You may start with a country, what city? What part of it? What street? Why does the story happen here?
Step # 3: Flesh out your main character
Bring the primary mover to life. Determine a character that will best carry out the essence of your story. Defining ‘best’ doesn’t necessarily equate to the ‘strongest’ or the ‘kindest’ character of your story. The hero, however, should be someone that the readers want to learn more about, a mover that will be at the center of the action. It should someone in your plot that can create an exciting journey your readers would want to look out for.
Create a main character that is worth caring about with these tips:
- Illustrate your character’s desires. What are the things that brought your character to his or her current situation? What does he or she want, and why is it important?
- Sketch out how your character plans to achieve those desires. Animate your characters further by propelling him or her to do things that will help him discover new things that are useful in reaching for his or her desires. Infuse how this new information would lead him to a new course of action.
- Throw in struggles that will cause your character to change. Having a character stuck in fulfilling a single desire might eventually make the story monotonous. If your character finally finds a way to solve his or her first desire, make him, or her want a new one. Throw in struggles that will bring him or her to a new journey.
- Introduce new characters. As you proceed towards the latter stages of writing your story, define new characters. Figure out how the roles they will play will help your main hero develop.
Step # 4: Choose your Point of View
Who tells the story? How much does this storyteller know about the story? Here are POVs which you can choose as you write your story:
- First person narrator. This is an omniscient narrator. He or she takes the pronoun I throughout the entire story. This particular POV is an easy one if you’re writing as a beginner. It helps the readers experience and learn about a single character’s mind completely. However, using the first-person point of view might not allow readers to develop a strong connection to the secondary characters in the story.
- Second person narrator. When it comes to story writing, this POV is used much less often. It uses the pronoun ‘You’ and makes the reader a character of the story. This POV is excellent in making the reader an active participant in the story development. However, this requires them to feel that the story setting is their immediate environment, which cannot work with all types of readers.
- Third person narrator. This POV is further divided into two types—omniscient and limited. The former type of third person POV uses the pronoun he/she/it. The narrator having this kind of POV gets access to the different character’s thoughts and emotions. While the latter type is told using the pronouns he/she but only through a single character’s perspective.
In selecting the right POV, it is essential that you evaluate the scenario upon which your story will be founded on. Pick a perspective that will best narrate the story of each of your characters without causing unnecessary confusion among all your readers.
Step # 5: Draft your plot
Crafting a well-developed plot begins with a few scenes that are weaved beautifully together. When you’re still in the earlier phases of story writing, it is okay not to have a clear and distinct plot. To make your plot more engaging to your readers, check out these tips:
- Make a story that has texture without having to kill your original plot. Do this by giving a character a surprising change. You can even switch the reader’s attention to a new hero in the story.
Step # 6: Create an intense climax
Creating an intense climax is a crucial step in writing a story. This builds excitement which will bring readers on the edge of their seats. Here’s how you can start writing the point of maximum tension in your story:
- A climax is essentially a clash between the different characters in your story. Suspense sparks when your readers begin to wonder which side is about to get the upper hand.
- A climax can only take effect if you have established clearly what the stakes are, at the beginning of the story. Remember when we talked about your character’s desires? Ask yourself again. As a writer, what do you think are at stake, making your character do anything to achieve his or her desire? Essentially, for a climax to be strong enough, it has to be something that the readers deem as necessary.
- Your readers must also have a strong connection with your characters to make them want to root for them when a climactic situation confronts them.
Step # 7: Pencil it in
It doesn’t really matter whether it’s a pencil or a pen that you wish to use, the most critical step of story writing is to have the courage to jot down your ideas. Establish discipline and make a deadline for yourself. It takes a lot of time for most people to create beautiful images in their head. So the next time you feel like an ooze of creativity is telling you to start writing, do it.
Remember, every person has a story to tell. Whatever genre you wish to write about, feel free to explore. Don’t limit yourself. Go as far as your imagination can take you.