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Ideas on Writing a Story


Writing a story is a very fun and very challenging endeavor. If you have a general idea about what you want your story to be about, whether it is something that happened to you at work or school the other day or a great epic adventure, you can turn it into a written story after you make a few decisions. Will it be a long or short story? Who will he characters be? Where will the story occur? Sometimes, you just need a little brainstorming to spur your writing on.

What Type of Story are You Writing?

There are many types of stories that you can choose from. The most basic types of stories are short stories, novellas and novels.

A short story is typically much shorter than a novella or a novel. Think of a short story like a television episode -- instead of telling an entire tale, it tells of a consequential moment or event in a character's life. Short stories can result in a powerful piece of prose because they emphasize how one moment can change a person or a life.

A novella falls between a short story and a novel in length, complexity and conflict. They often tell their tales from one character's point of view and focus on emotional or personal development rather than the development of a larger community. Novellas usually focus on a single plot and do not include sub-plots.

A novel is what you think of when you think of a fiction book. Novels are fictional narratives. The plot is divided into chapters and covers deep character development and conflict throughout the story. The plot in a novel is more complex than a novella or a short story and it may include several sub-plots. Novels are told in third person if several characters require more personal development than others or first person if the main character requires the reader's full sympathy.

Point of View

Stories are generally told from third person point of view (POV) or first person POV.

Third person POV means that you are telling a story using the pronouns "he" or "she." For example, the children's series "The Boxcar Children" by Gertrude Chandler Warner is told in third person. It begins with "One warm night, four children stood in front of a bakery." This is third person because it is read as if a narrator is telling the children's tale instead of the children themselves. "The Boxcar Children" is told in what is known as "third person omniscient." This means the story tells each child's thoughts and experiences. If it were "third person limited," then we the reader would only know the thoughts or experiences of one of the four children.

First person POV means that you are telling a story using the pronouns "I" or "we." S.E. Hinton's "The Outsiders" is told from the first person POV. Ponyboy, the main character, tells the entire story from his point of view. At one point, while telling the reader how he feels, he says "I wanted to cry, but Greasers don't cry in front of strangers." First person POV can be a powerful tool if you want to pull your reader's heartstrings.

What about second person POV? This POV, which uses the pronoun "you" in the narrative is used in Choose Your Own Adventure stories. "You walk down the hallway and you see a door. What do you do?" The use of this POV is used only if you wish to make your reader a character, who makes choices and changes the plot throughout your story.

Plot

The plot of a story is simply the way events unfold as the story progresses. Narrative plot generally follows a very simple structure with five main plot points. These plot point are the following, in proper order. In exposition, you introduce your characters, the location, and the situation. During rising action, events begin to unfold that may cause your character to face sudden change. Your character may realize that they will have to take action to face that sudden change. At the climax, events reach an exciting pinnacle. Your character may need to make a life-changing choice or face an adversary. During the falling action, the climax is resolved and your character has to "wind down". Perhaps he or she simply needs to go back home. Finally, during the resolution, your character may need to make peace with friends or even with themselves. A resolution does not have to be a happy ending.

Since the general plot structure is so loose, this leaves many doors open for the rest of your story. Perhaps plot occurs in an urban setting or a rural setting, indoors or outdoors, on a road trip from point A to point B, even underwater or in outer space!

Characters

Characters are very important to your plot development and your story as a whole. Readers connect with characters more than any other element of your story, so you should make sure that your characters are solid.

A character might be the most normal person on the planet, or he or she might be the most outlandish person you've ever met or thought of. Whatever personality you choose for your main character, or even supporting characters, make sure that this personality remains true throughout the story. An angry character should be angry throughout the story unless a significant event changes his perspective on the world. A happy person might turn sour because of an event that effects him.

Characters really have no limit. Your characters can be male or female, children or adults, human or feline, happy or sad. There are no limits. Sometimes it's fun to think back on your life and reminisce on "characters" you've met before. What was it about someone in your past that burned them into your memory? If you don't know what made someone the way they are, use your imagination and create a back story for them. Back stories are the stories that shape a character's background. Where did he or she grow up? What was his or her family like? Did something happen during his or her childhood that defines the character today? Your reader does not necessarily need to know this back story but as long as you know it and stick to it, your character will become very strong and dynamic.

About the Author

Samantha Hazard has written professionally since 1998. Her published works can be found in "The High School Writer" literary magazine, "The Manitou Messenger" and "The Woodmen Edition" newspapers, iTunes, and Vimeo. Hazard has a Bachelor of Arts in English, media, and film from St. Olaf College.

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