If you’re ready to embark on your great writing adventure, but you’re stuck in limbo wondering how to write a story, I’ve got good news! You already know how to write a story. In fact, you have a life time of experience. All the memories you’ve collected are stories you tell yourself or others who are willing to listen.
What do these stories have in common?
“We were devastated when our dog, Bear ran away. The girls and I hung posters over the neighborhood with her description and an offer for a reward. I went to the animal shelter each day, searching the cages full of eager pups and each day my hope bled away as I walked those aisles, looking for a scruffy brown mutt with timid eyes. A week later I was resigned to her absence but I went to the shelter anyway. I couldn’t live with the possibility she might be there, searching the faces of strangers for familiarity and compassion, while I went about business as usual. I saw a mother with her liter suckling in a cage near the door. It broke my heart to see the sorrow of knowledge in her eyes and I hurried past with a sob bubbling in my throat. An aggressive Pit Bull snarled and barked, a matted Cocker Spaniel whined, a group of puppies wrestled and knocked over their water bowl. Half way down the aisle, a scruffy brown mutt sat quietly in the middle of her cage. I had to do a double take because she didn’t leap to me in relief and gratitude. I kneeled and whispered her name. She came to me hesitantly, as though she might be dreaming – but it was real, we’d found each other again. I was certainly the hero at home that night, but Bear got all the pats on the back.”
“Tay and I were just coming out of the doctor’s office. Poor kid had strep throat and was miserable. As we walked through the lobby a woman stopped us and asked “Do you have a white car? It was hit in the parking lot.” Sure enough, the front end of my car was smashed between the offending vehicle, a mini van, and another parked car, a sedan of some sort. The driver of the mini van sat in her car while bystanders buzzed around her window like bees. I was annoyed by her histrionics but I didn’t have a kanipshin. It wouldn’t help the situation and she did look like a heart attack could strike at any moment. While we exchanged insurance information and took photos of our vehicles, a nurse from the doctor’s office came out to check on Ms Mini Van. Tay kept asking me if I was ok. I told her if today was the day to have an accident, I was glad it happened when we weren’t in the car. Strangely, it’s the second multi car pile up I’ve been in and I was out of my car each time. But that’s another story. Tay called Alan and he came to our rescue. It was a relief to see him, but at the same time I was worried he’d confront Ms Mini Van and send her over the edge. He walked around the car accessing the damage, and commenting on the sanity of a certain somebody, while I trailed behind like a leaking tire “shh,shh,shh”. As you can imagine, that didn’t go over too well. Finally Ms Mini Van was escorted into the Dr’s office for further observation so Alan could rant in peace. He declared my car drivable, to home at least, and we left the scene reasonably unscathed.”
They each have a PLOT, which includes:
The Beginning – An event creates tension in character’s life. There is a change in the status quo.
Main Conflict – What goal must be accomplished or question answered? The character must have a conflict or there is no point in telling the story.
The Middle – The urgency should build so the reader feels tension as your protagonist struggles. Make sure there are plenty of obstacles so the prize, once obtained, is well earned.
The Confrontation – Your protagonist confronts their fear, rival or specific event. Whatever was anticipated from the beginning happens.
The Climax – The dust settles, all questions are answered and the protagonist has transformed.
The End – Avoid an abrupt ending. You need a great beginning to hook your reader, but a poor ending will be what they remember. Give them enough closure so the book feels complete. Endings that are open to interpretation and unanswered questions may annoy audiences rather than fascinate.
They have a Setting which includes:
Place – Geographical location where action occurs
Time - The general time frame in which action occurs; such as present day, in the future or historical period.
You can fill in the setting with details such as: weather conditions, social conditions and mood or atmosphere.
Lastly, these stories have a point of view or the voice telling the story. They are personal narratives of events so they are told in first person with conversational tone. Whenever you hear the words “You’re not going to believe what happened…” or “Let me tell you about…” what follows will be a story.
You may have a character narrate the story, or it may be told from a third person perspective.
I don’t think it’s possible for a writer to eliminate their voice entirely, nor do I think you should try. Yes you want the story to be authentic, but you also want it to be uniquely yours. Your voice brings that uniqueness to the story. Now that you know how to write a story it’s time to begin your journey. Bon Voyage!