Wednesday, October 20, 2010

How To Write

Since I am a writer, I've been invited to speak at Younger's class. I am going to teach the kids how to write a story. I wrote a basic lesson plan to show the teacher. This is writing 101, how many writers come up with their stories.

1. What do you remember most about a story? Usually the answer is the characters. You can get away with a lot, including weak plotting, if you have great characters. So the first step in writing a story is to create a character.

There are lots of ways to do this. You need to answer three basic questions:
What does s/he look like?
What is s/he like?
What does s/he like/hate?

You can go as deep as you want to make that character real to you. I like to find pictures of my characters to help me describe them. Maggie is based on Inara from Firefly/Serenity. I even dress her in Inara's clothes. Janie is based on the work of a Taiwanese artist. I have a long list of questions that help me find out about the character. When I get stuck, I interview my characters. It's amazing where those interviews go.

2. What does the character want? If you don't know your character's goal, your story is going to wander. If your character doesn't want anything and take steps to get that, the character is weak and will not interest the reader.

3. Why does the character want this? You can make your character want anything if you give them proper motivation. Cinderella is a well-loved fairy tale that's so universal it's applied to sports teams. Most everyone wants to be a prince or princess, but it's the reason Cinderella wants it that hits our hearts. It's the motivation that makes Cinderella a classic.

4. What stands in the character's way? This is the essence of your story. It is conflict that propels the action. It could be anything.

That character, which tends to create the most interesting conflict

Any combination of these. Just keep sticking things in your character's way.

5. You can have an ending in mind, but you don't have to. You don't even need to have a beginning.

Now take all of these and write a story sentence: (character) wants (goal), but (conflict).

That's it. That's a story. Write the sentence in big letters and stick it by your computer. This will keep your story focused. Whenever you get stuck, just look at your sentence and it will kick start your muse.

Let's go back to Cinderella: An abused young lady wants to go to the ball, but her evil step mother won't let her. 18 words.

Your turn. If you do this before NaNo begins, your story will be much more focused.

No comments:

Post a Comment