How to Create a Story?
Your Easy Storytelling Guide from Beginning to End
Storytelling is as old as time. People of long ago used to gather around a campfire and listen to a story. A master storyteller captivates his listeners with tales of magic, power, love, failures, and triumphs. The history of mankind is passed through the word of mouth, from one generation to the next. And often with embellishments and exaggeration. The bards of long ago ply their trade through storytelling. There are legends of them hopping from place to place, earning room and food through stories they tell.
But how do you build a story?
“If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion,” Somerset Maugham says, “it doesn’t matter a damn how you write.”
Creating stories is not that hard. Your imagination is the limit. However, it helps if you bear in mind the keys in building a story that will hold your readers’ attention. A story, as Mark Twain said, has to accomplish something and arrive somewhere. In short, it requires a beginning and an end.
Some writers start formulating their story with a plot. Others are inspired by a setting. Many let their characters carry them through the plot. You can start anywhere, but it always helps if you have an outline. How do you start this outline?
Think of a Premise
What is your theme? How do you want your story to affect readers? Think of a basic idea for your story. To do this, you need to answer questions that will help you solidify your idea. There should be a protagonist. Who is it? How is the protagonist at the beginning? Shy, timid, weak? What does he or she want to happen? Why cannot he or she accomplish the goal? What stands in the way?
Once you have answered all those questions, you can craft a sentence or two that will encompass the basic idea for your story.
Draft the Plot
There should be a beginning, a middle, and an end. You should determine the conflict and the resolution. Take careful note of the twists and turns.
Make a list of the scenes you want to include. This is like a skeleton of the story. Draw inspiration from your imagination. In your mind, imagine how a certain scene will play out. Write it down. Embark on a journey with your character. The scenes can play in linear form, or you can simply note what comes to your mind first. Take note of the scenes which begs more questions. Like for example, you don’t understand why your character jumped off a ship. You may highlight that particular idea and go back to it later for a more thorough treatment.
Get to Know Your Characters
You should make a character profile. This includes basic information about them, such as their physical attributes, personality, strengths and weaknesses, family background, education, and many others. It is also important to discover their desires, their goals, their dreams, worries, fears, and doubts so you can flesh out their motivations in the story. This will also help you create more multidimensional characters.
When you know your characters very well, you will have an anchor you can always go back to when you get lost along the way.
Define Your Setting
This includes time and place. Is this a story that took place a long time ago? In which period of history? Or is it happening in the present time? It helps to know this in order for you to determine where to focus your research. If you choose a historical setting, you need to learn a lot about that particular period to sound more convincing. The place you choose is also important. The place can set the mood of the story. Some stories start by revealing the setting place.
Remember the rough sketch of scenes that you made? You can also put a corresponding time and place for each of them. That way, you will find it easier to proceed to the next step.
Make the Concrete Outline
This is where you combine everything you have done so far. Try to organize all your ideas into a coherent and concrete outline. It is advisable to do this in a linear form. Start from the beginning of your story. Gradually move down into the next scene and so on and so forth until you reach the climax, resolution, and the ending. Tighten your plot. Make sure to fix the loopholes.
Once you have accomplished all of that, you can plunge into putting your story into paper.
Creative Writing Now. “What is Plot – How to Build a Story from Beginning to End.” Accessed June 9, 2017. http://www.creative-writing-now.com/what-is-plot.html.
Bunting, Joe. “Ten Secrets to Write Better Stories.” Accessed June 9, 2017. http://thewritepractice.com/write-story/.