Developing a Story Idea – Part 2

In Part 1, we looked at the building blocks of story development – formulating the idea, brainstorming, creating the characters and their goals, using mind maps, linear graphs or other ways to visualise how the rest of the characters and story revolve around the main character, so in Part 2 we’ll look at the last stages of development – the story arc, outlining and the important critical choices before you write.
You’ve written down the plot, you’ve thrown together some ideas, you’ve created your characters and mapped each one thoroughly and you might have a mind map or linear graph or just simple notes to help pull the story together.
Next, plot the story arc. In other words, put together some sort of incident running order of important plot points; the key moments that will elevate the story. These are often the foundations for the story, because without the chain of events, there wouldn’t be much story to tell. So, for instance, point A happens, which results in Point B, which in tu…

Developing a Story Idea – Part 1

Story ideas come in all manner of ways. Sometimes they pop into our heads from nowhere, or sometimes they appear after we see, hear or read something. But for writers who are more thorough in their approach to writing, the seed of an idea will need a huge amount of development to grow from an idea into a fully-fledged plot for a novel.
The story is made up of several different components – the initial idea, the plot, the characters, the themes, the sub plot and so on. They’re all interconnected and they all require a place within your story progress, so that means those elements need to be brought together to create a flawless story.
The first step with story development is writing the idea down. It doesn’t have to be precise or detailed. Most often our ideas are raw, undiluted and at times more of a jumble. The idea for a story can come from anywhere – it could be from a simple observation, an overheard conversation or a collection of thoughts. Or it could be a slightly more rounded id…

Creating Characteristics

Characters are a vital ingredient to a successful story, and well-drawn, memorable characters are what we remember and enjoy about stories. We become immersed in their world, their adventures and their actions.
Characters are notable because they’re multidimensional; they’re almost real, and very often they are drawn from real life. But the one thing that makes characters so effective is their characteristics. These multifaceted features give your characters life. It’s the thing that makes them real. But what do we mean by characteristics?
Real people are fallible. No one is perfect. Everyone has foibles and we have unique personalities, shaped by our genes, experiences, childhood, parents and peers and our environments. Everyone has a history, a background; a story. We all have personality traits – the little things that make us…us.
These are the various layers your characters need in order to have realistic characteristics.
This is an important aspect that writers shouldn’t …

Author Intrusion

Author intrusion is almost always unintentional, but very common. That’s because authors tend to get carried away when in the throes of writing and sometimes forget they are not their characters – they’re simply the writer. It’s no surprise that, for the most part, writers don’t realise they’ve intruded the narrative. But why is it a problem? Author intrusion is what it says. It’s when the author intrudes the narrative with opinions, ideas, words or context that doesn’t belong in the story. Fiction is just that; home to fictional characters in a fictional world, so an author should never project him/herself into the story. When it does happen, it can be distracting and confusing for the reader and can disrupt the rhythm of the story. Not only that, but the reader isn’t interested in the author’s personal opinions. They’re only interested in what the characters think and feel and if they don’t, it can jar and stop them enjoying the story. Your fictional world isn’t the place to express yo…

Can You Write a Story Within a Story?

A story within a story can exist, it’s an old technique, but they’re not as easy as they might sound.It’s a literary device that works by having two separate stories that don’t necessarily have to be linked. Don’t confuse it with a subplot, which is a specifically linked plot thread to the main plot. A story within a story is exactly what it describes. The best way to try to understand them is the think of the inner story and an outer story. The inner story tends to be the main story while the outer story is used to tell the inner story, usually by way of a ‘narrator’, although there’s no reason that the outer story can be the main story and the inner story is used to help tell the outer story. Whichever way around they are, one story sets up how and why the main story is told. Writers like to use a character within the story as the narrator, by having him/her tell another character a different story. Other writers have characters that create their own stories within the main story. Swa…

How to Make Stories Allegorical

Every story has something to say, and sometimes our stories become more than what we expect – there are times when we weave hidden themes or have deeper meaning with use of symbols, and sometimes stories become allegorical, without us realising. For others, creating metaphors and allegories takes a great deal of planning. But what exactly is an allegory? We’ve all read stories with strong moral themes that teach us something about the world around us and how humanity fits within it. It’s a metaphor – but not the short metaphors we sprinkle throughout our novels. This metaphor runs through the entire story arc and uses characters, events or situations, themes, sub plots, symbols etc., to show the reader the moral of the story, but which falls outside of the literal interpretation of the story. Beneath the actual story lies the real meaning. And like any metaphor, it must have meaning; otherwise the reader won’t understand it. An allegorical story can be about anything – they can be about …

Avoid Mistakes When Editing Your Own Work – Part 2

In part 1, we looked at some of the common mistakes writers make when they try to edit their own work, simply because they don’t understand the processes that editing entails. It’s important to point out that self-editing isn’t about being an expert. Self-editing is about the kind of collective things to look out for when reading and redrafting your work, so let’s look at some other common errors. Not Redrafting This is the stage most writers often skip over, without taking proper time out and without doing a full read through of the manuscript. They write the first draft, edit as they go, then do a second draft and hey presto, their perfect, brilliant novel is ready for the masses. Except it isn’t. Redrafting is the next stage on from the read through, where all the notes from the read through are translated to the manuscript. Redrafting shouldn’t be confused with actual editing. They are two separate processes. The redraft allows the writer to tweak the manuscript, correct some of those…