Category Archives: HOW TO CREATE A STORY

HOW TO CREATE A STORY

HOW TO CREATE A STORY FROM SCRATCH

Before we start learning how to create a story you need to know exactly what a story is. Simply put, story is what happens to a character. Think about it.

This is what happened to a character I just made up. I called her Sadie.  Sadie is unfairly treated by her boss and comes home from work to a row with her boyfriend. She wakes up the next morning after a really bad dream and decides to leave everything and go on a one-woman boat trip around the world.  She discovers hidden talents along the way before returning home and starting a brand new career as a wilderness survival guru.

 

A plot is how it happens:  She sneaks along to the local harbor, and steals a boat. The boat’s owner chases her. She escapes from him and is attacked by pirates. She survives by shooting them with a harpoon gun left by the owner etc. etc. She loses all her food which falls overboard during a hurricane and she has to learn to catch fish using her old tights etc. etc

THE STORY

Remember – an idea not written is worth the paper it was written on. So these exercises are designed to get you writing – think of it as the warm up routine you might do before you exercise.

TOOLS

Now obviously there are lots of ways to do any amount of creative writing exercise on a computer but for this stage I want you to forget about computers so that there are absolutely no distractions to come between you and your story.

So start by gathering a ring binder, some dividers and plenty of A4 sheets. You will begin by producing categories for your own creative writing.

CATEGORY ONE

The first category is going to be for characters. So mark your first divider as character. You are going to create ten of them. Learning how to create a story is not difficult if you simply relax and follow the process. You will find out how to create a character here.

CATEGORY TWO

Next you are going to invent your plot. Remember that as I said above a plot is how the story happens. Plot provides the mechanics of the story. You can find out how to create a plot here.

Good luck and remember…

‘You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.’

Jack London

HOW TO CREATE CONFLICT

HOW TO CREATE CONFLICT

‘The greatest rules of dramatic writing are conflict, conflict and conflict.’
James Frey

Learning how to create conflict in your stories is crucial.  Imagine reading a story that begins where the main character has no flaws or fears, lives in a great environment, has happy well-balanced relationships, a great job and boss, has fantastic hobbies, plenty of money etc. In other words I am asking you to think of a story that gets better and better. A character starts off happy, remains happy and gets happier. Does this sound interesting?

 

Then imagine reading more and more pages about this wonderful person and their wonderful life. How many pages do you think you will turn before you get to the point where you are thinking that if something doesn’t happen in this story you’re going to put the book down? Same with films and television.

I think about a good book as one you are dying to get your friends to read so you can discuss it and one where you have to work really hard not to tell them what happens in the end.

None of us want to know the end of a story before we have read it because we are aware that the enjoyment of ‘finding out’ will be spoiled. What is the point of reading a book if you are not the least bit curious to know both what happens next, and how it happens?

CONFLICT – A JOURNEY THROUGH OBSTACLES

This is why, whether we consciously realise it or not, we all want something to happen to the characters in a story. By this I mean something that affects the character enough to change their path and set them off on a journey through obstacles. Simply put, this is what makes a story differ from a straightforward report or list of events. This is conflict. If we want to create a story we need to create conflict.

 

Some people like to see characters overcome all the obstacles and end up at the proverbial happy ending and some of us like an ambiguous ending where the reader gets to project their own thoughts and imagination on to an undefined future and are left with something to think about.

The question of story versus character is one that has provoked much debate among writers. There are those who argue strongly that it is character that matters most and that character development should take priority over story. The argument goes that it is the revelation of the layers of character underneath the initial observation of looks and personality that make the story.

LET CONFLICT REVEAL CHARACTER

I would argue that we need both to create a character.  It is impossible to reveal character without story.  Conflict is change and this is what forces hidden and therefore interesting characteristics to the surface. We are aware of this in our lives. There are people who surprise you by their response to conflict or crisis and those who don’t – who are the most interesting?

Are people who do exactly what you expect all the time interesting? We might like them but sometimes it takes a crisis to learn ‘the truth’ about a person.  The events, obstacles, etc. in a good story form this crisis. Crisis is crucial when you create a plot for your story.

In real life crisis is something that varies from person to person and so it is for stories. A crisis doesn’t have to be huge to be interesting – it just has to cause conflict – problems and obstacles for our characters to overcome. Without this there is no story just description and no matter how wonderful your description is, it is not what turns pages.

Best of luck with your writing.

Grace