Thursday, May 16, 2013

How To Write a Story (the Basics)

How To Write a Story (intro)

I feel like a lot of girls my age aspire to be a few overall professions.  They are...
  1. An actress/singer/celebrity
  2. A writer

If you're a girl around the age of 8-11 and don't fit one of these choices, my apologies.  Just from experience, I feel like those are the main goals of some girls.

And from my own experience, I also feel like some who aspire to be writers do not start off with the hard, cold basic facts that go into a children's fiction story.  I got this from experience. 

As a writer, I'd like everything to be happy with the main character--she (it's always a she) would have adventures and have everything go her way.  My first books were like that.  My first ever recollection of an actual book was entitled "Kim's New Baby."  In it, the main character (Kim) has several fun plans and no actual problem to the story.  She goes camping with her BFF Elja (don't ask me where I got the name, because I honestly don't know.  I think it's because I like the name Ella, and I like the letter j).  She becomes a big sister when her younger sister is born.  She has a 6-day-long weekend (that was on accident).  You get the drift.

In other words, Kim's New Baby is boring.

Yes, I just put myself down as a boring writer...in the beginning.  Kim's New Baby, and several others following that story, are reminiscent of the no-conflict type of story.  And I'm going to tell you: you aren't ever going to publish a book if all that's in it are rainbows, unicorns, and butterflies.

Writing a Story
There are several technical literary components that have to go inside a story.

The first is the protagonist, or a main character.  The protagonist has to be likeable (she can't be mean), but at the same time, she should have at least one fault (for example, say she's a little angel except for her habit of telling little white lies).  The reason why she (I have a natural tendency to put things as girls.  If you're a boy reading this, don't take any offense) has one fault is because she needs to resolve it by the end of the story.  She has to grow and learn through the conflict.

The second component is the conflict.  The conflict is, many times, demonstrated through the author's use of an antagonist, or a bad guy.  In this case, let's say that you're writing a story that has a very strong antagonist who makes life hard for the protagonist.  The antagonist should be very against the protagonist, should not be likeable, and should create a problem for the protagonist.

Okay, pretend I wrote a very simple story.

My protagonist's name is Jane.  She is very nice to everyone, except she sometimes tells lies to her friends, parents, and teachers.

My antagonist's name is Amy (no offense to any Amys who might be reading this).  Amy (for an unknown reason) bullies Jane.  Jane's conflict is Amy, the bully.

The conflict should target the protagonist's fault and help resolve it.

Because Jane has a tendency to lie, she lies about Amy and tells her parents that Amy is her friend.

This is when the climax, or the "highest point of suspense" in the story comes in.  When writing the climax of the story, show how your main character realizes that problem is getting out of control, and also show how your main character resolves it--and, in the process, stops sinning, too.

With the Jane story, I think you can tell where I'm going.

The climax is when Amy bullies Jane to the point where Jane can't take it anymore.  So, after several failed solutions (like diplomatically negotiating with Amy, yelling at Amy), Jane decides to tell her parents and admit to lying.

When writing a story like this, THE PARENTS SHOULD SUCCEED.  If the parents failed and Jane realizes that she made a mistake in telling them, will she stop lying?  Of course not, because now she's convinced that parents can't do anything.  Sometimes too much failure will prompt the reader to stop reading.

When Jane tells her parents, her parents obviously tell the teacher and the teacher punishes Amy for bullying Jane.  This is the resolution.  The resolution should solve any and all problems and give the reader the assurance that nothing bad will ever happen to the main character again (that's unrealistic).  It should be very thorough.

Finishing Up How to Write a Story (end)
There are so many different exceptions to the basic-basic story format.  Like if you were writing an adventure trilogy, you wouldn't want the resolution to be so thorough that the readers wouldn't buy the next two books.  And sometimes the conflict is within the protagonist herself and she has to battle it.  Writing a story is so complex that sometimes the basic structure gets drowned in different writing styles. 

If you're looking to improving your writing, I suggest reading.  Reading will improve your vocabulary, your way of thinking, and, most importantly, your writing.  I've included a list of suggested books.

The Boxcar Children Series, by Gertrude Chandler Warner.  *The ones that say "CREATED BY GERTRUDE CHANDLER WARNER" on the front are less in-depth and intriguing than the ones that she actually wrote.

The Harry Potter Series, by J.K. Rowling.  I know some people say that it's a very darkly magical story having to do with witchcraft and all sorts of dark stuff, but honestly, I don't think it's too comparable to true witchcraft.  I appreciate the adventure, the writing, and the font (Adobe Garamond--MY FAVORITE) of Rowling.  She depicts a brilliant picture, and all the elements of the story are there for a purpose.  You unlock a mystery as you read.  *Suggested age group is 11+ (or to parental discretion) as there is some killing and romance in it.

The Anne of Green Gables series, by L.M. Montgomery.  Not just Anne of Green Gables, but the whole series.  All of them are brilliant, witty, and funny chronicles following Anne's life.  Humorous adventures and wonderful insight and perspective are in this series.  Rilla of Ingleside, the last one, also gives you an in-depth understanding of what it was like to be in World War I.

Those are all that I can think of at the moment, but I think the post is long enough...







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