Monday, February 20, 2012

The composition of a story

What method do you use in writing? Do you plan your story out before hand making detailed outlines and graphs before composing a single word? Do you jot down brief notes of a general nature? Do you write from the seat of your pants with only a general idea of the stories content in advance? No matter what method you use every story has three sections.

The composition of a story

Before anything is written you need an idea. This can come in the form of a dream, something you see, something that happens in your life or many other sources. Something has to inspire you and if you are the writer type you have the urge to put this occurrence or visual stimulation down in print. So what happens next?

There are so many different ways to proceed. Some writers outline their story making notes or graphs plotting out the major steps of their story. These notes and or graphs can be detailed or vague depending on the individual’s desires.

Some (like me) just begin writing down ideas and making notes. They plunge right in and begin writing the story. That is the beauty of modern computers. You can easily go back to a section and add in or delete things as they come to mind. This is so much easier than it was when I first began writing on a typewriter. Then you were forced to either use correct all (a lot in my case) or retype the entire page.

One of my stories was inspired by a model airplane I put together years ago. It hangs from the ceiling in my office. I was sitting in my chair staring off into space in search of an idea for a story. I happened to glance up and saw the plane. Eureka! Inspiration was born. Thoughts began flowing through my mind and I started putting them on the computer.

Whether you are the detailed outline type or the seat of the pants type writer, just remember, no one way is correct. It is up to the individual and usually comes down to whichever way is the most comfortable. No matter which method you use your story must begin at the beginning. It must have a middle and an end.

The Beginning.

In the beginning you introduce your main character or characters. I recommend that you restrict the number of characters to no more than three. You don’t want to overload your reader by introducing too many at once and possibly causing confusion. You can always add more characters as your story progresses.
Next you set the scene. Where the story takes place. The entire story can take place at a single location. For example in a single room. It can also encompass an entire world or several worlds if your story is science fiction. If your scene is large I would recommend you expand on it throughout the story.

In this section you set the conflict or situation that your character will face. Your first sentence and paragraph have to hook the reader and make him or her want to read more.

The middle.

This is usually the bulk of your story. Your character develops, you introduce additional characters. You may create other locations or scenes for your characters to visit. The conflict comes to forefront and the character faces it. The writer needs to pay special attention to this area to retain the reader’s interest. You can do this with plot twists, unexpected occurrences, action or any many other ways. Don’t let this section become boring or monotonous.

The ending

The conflict is usually overcome or solved by the characters at the end of the middle section or at the beginning of the ending section. The story outcome is reached. Loose ends are tied up. Unanswered questions are answered. If this story is part of a series then often the reader is given hints to encourage further reading. Most publishers want the story to have a HEA (Happily Ever After) or at least a HFN (Happy For Now) ending. The last sentence or the last paragraph is as important as the first.

Have a great day my friends and Write on



Ben Prior said...

This is how it works for me.

I am excited and full of energy and plunge in writing down everything that comes to mind. Eventually the energy burns off and you realize that you are in for a long slog.

This is where I realize that this is a lot harder than I thought, and the ideas don't just appear out of the air like the did when I started. I realize that I have to sit down and force myself to keep going.

I haven't come all the way to the end yet, but now all the errors that I made in the beginning and the middle all come together and make themselves inevitably obvious.

I think this is the part where I am just going to have to re-write the story!

Author GE Stills said...

Re-read what you have and more ideas will usually come to you. Yes, you have to sit back and think about the story but then anybody that said writing is easy hasn't seriously written anything. That is my opinion.
The beauty of word porcessers is the ability to go back, add, change and delete. lol
Write on my friend

Sheila Deeth said...

Heading fast towards the middle...

Author GE Stills said...

Hi Sheila

Thank you so much for stopping by.

"Heading fast toward the middle." Am I to presume this statement concerns a new story you are writing? You are one very busy lady. I checked out a number of you web sites. WOW

I see you are also involved in a local writers group. I do enjoy doing that but it certainly takes a lot of time organizing. lol

Again thanks for stopping by

Dawn Colclasure said...

Good information, Gary. No matter what kind of story someone writes, these three factors are essential. Keep up the good work!

Author GE Stills said...

Thanks for stopping by Dawn and write on.