STUCK on a Short Story?STUCK on a Short Story? in Writing More Like This
10 Second Tip:
Stuck on a SHORT Story?
Stuck on what to put in your story?
-- This is the list of things I check off when I create a story:
Do you have a Setting in mind?
- Modern day
Do you have ONE big main event for the story to focus on?
- A battle
- An escape
- A love scene
- An act of revenge
- A sacrifice
- A treasure to claim
- A magic spell
- A transformation
Do you know what you want to SAY with your story?
- Love sucks.
- Friendship is forever.
- No good deed goes unpunished.
- A snake can only ever be a snake.
- Sometimes you have to take chances.
- Magic makes things worse, not better.
Do you know where you want to END your story?
- A wedding?
- A funeral?
- A bloody battlefield?
- An empty street?
- The bottom of an ocean?
Do you have your three central characters ready?
-- Just to make things interesting, any one of t
Essentials of a Short StoryEssentials of a Short Story in Writing More Like This
Essentials of a Short Story
Quotes raped from a critique of Nathanial Hawthorn's Twice Told Tales by
Edgar Allen Poe - 1837
Edgar Allen Poe, celebrated as one of the finest short fiction writers of all time, was also a literary critic. These are bits of his wisdom on writing short stories, gleaned from one of his critiques.
"The true critic will but demand that that the (story's) design intended be accomplished, to the fullest extent, by the means most advantageously applicable " -- Poe
Poe's Prerequisites -- in a Nutshell:
To deliver fullest satisfaction, a short story should be structured:
1) To be read in one sitting.
2) Using a deliberate number of characters and incidents.
3) With words restrained in style and tone.
4) All done that should be done, with nothing done which should not be.
Poe's Prerequisites -- in DETAIL
A short story should be structured:
1) To be rea
Advanced CHARACTER CreationAdvanced CHARACTER Creation in Writing More Like This
Advanced CHARACTER Creation ~ for Fiction
Hero ~ Villain ~ Ally
There are three essential characters in every story. There may be any number of side characters, but in traditional Adventures, and Romances of every stripe (erotic or not,) the main conflict is usually, if not always, a TRIANGLE of complimentary opposites.
Translation: You could tell the whole story with ONLY these Three Characters; perhaps not with any real detail, but you could still do the entire basic plotline.
I'm sure you're familiar with the names Hero & Villain or Antagonist & Protagonist already. Those are pretty darn standard. However, always there, though seldom named is a Third character, the Ally -- the Companion to the Hero or Villain.
The Invisible Character: the Ally
The Ally's function is to be the Middle-Man, the nay-sayer that presents an opposing view t
Advanced Plotting-The PREMISEAdvanced Plotting-The PREMISE in Writing More Like This
Advanced Plotting ~ the PREMISE
Could you tell me more on plotting story points? I can get the big story idea well enough, but I run into a snag deciding the whole causality thing -- A leads to B, leads to C, etc."
-- Mad about Plotting
Ah, so you wanna know how to put all the theories together to make a story, do you? (Gee, you couldn't pick the easy stuff could you?) Okay...
A story's Causes & Effects, the triggers that lead from one event to the next, comes from your Premise.
Just for the record...
A Premise is NOT a Concept!
The Premise is the theoretical / emotional problem that your story is trying to illustrate and answer. It's the glue that holds the whole thing together. It's the Purpose of your story.
A Concept is HOW you intend to illustrate that Premise, it's the story you wrap around it.
Example: The 'Matrix':
Premise: Knowledge vs. Ig
ACTION Sequences - Plug+PlayACTION Sequences - Plug+Play in Writing More Like This
Writing ACTION Sequences
The Plug & Play Method
Lets begin with a Review...
The flash of pain exploded in my cheek from the slap her hand lashed out at me.
Why is this wrong?
If you were watching this scene as a movie, that sentence is NOT how you would have seen it happen.
Actual Sequence of events:
1) Her hand lashed out at me in a slap.
2) A flash of pain exploded in my cheek
ACTION Sequences = Chronological Order
REALITY = something happens to you and then you react.
Action > Reaction > Action > Reaction = Chronological order
FICTION = the Plot happens to the characters and then they react.
Action > Reaction > Action > Reaction = Chronological order
If you want the reader to SEE the actions that you are trying to portray, Chronological Order is the ONLY way to write that scene. In other words, if you visualize the characters doing something in a specific
Writing for PROFITWriting for PROFIT in Writing More Like This
Writing for Profit
It's Not just an Adventure - It's a JOB.
Whoever told you that writing fiction for publication - for money - is supposed to be Artistic, Fun, or Easy -- LIED.
Writing may look artistic, and creative writing certainly is artistic (that's why they call it Creative Writing,) but writing for a living; writing for publication with the intent to get paid on a regular basis is NOT artistic, it's NOT always fun, and it certainly is NOT easy.
Writing for publication is WORK. Sure, some of it is fun, but the bulk of it is mind-bending, eye-straining work. Don't get me wrong, creativity is part of the job of writing for a living, but if you think us professional writers turn on "the Creative Muse" at 8 AM and shut her back off again at 5:30 PM then you are missing the point entirely.
The Road to publication is paved with glamorous Half-Truths.
Half-Truth: "If you write it
When the Hero is NOT a HeroWhen the Hero is NOT a Hero in Writing More Like This
Protagonist & Antagonist ~ A Different Definition
There are Three Essential Characters in Every Story. There may be any number of side characters, but in traditional Adventures, and Romances of every stripe the main conflict is usually, if not always, a triangle of complimentary opposites.
Translation: You could tell the WHOLE story with ONLY these Three Characters; perhaps not with any real detail, but you could still do the entire basic plotline. (Yes I know, I've said some of this before. Bear with me.)
Yep. I'm sure you're familiar with: Hero Villain Heroine (or Sidekick) already. Those are pretty darn standard. So, let's define them in a more Literary, (and complicated,) fashion shall we?
Antagonist - Protagonist - Ally
ALLY? Who the heck is That?
Always there, though seldom named
The DUAL-NATURED CharacterThe DUAL-NATURED Character in Writing More Like This
Building the DUAL-NATURED Character
Let's start this lecture with a HUGE secret:
-- There are Three Essential Characters in every story:
> Adversary The one causing all the trouble.
> Proponent The one trying to keep things the way they are.
> Ally The close companion of one or the other caught in the middle.
In other words, you can tell any story with ONLY these Three Characters; perhaps not with any real detail, but you could still do the entire basic plotline.
And each essential character is governed by one of three SPECIFIC aspects, or Drives:
> MOTIVE - Driven by a REASON to Make something happen, such as Revenge.
> ACTION - Driven by the need to ACT, normally because if they don't they die, but an incentive such as a Reward or Prize works too.
Basic PLOTTINGBasic PLOTTING in Writing More Like This
A plot is the pattern a story follows, the most common being:
All successful (read: popular) stories have patterns. Sometimes it's simple, sometimes it's complex, but all of the stories read or told often enough to remain in the popular mind of any culture have a pattern, a plot.
Here are some examples of simple plot patterns
American Dream Version:
He became very rich.
The Heroic version:
He became the leader of his people.
He died in the middle of a glorious battle to defend his land, and became a legendary figure that would never be forgotten.
Aristotle's Elements of a Greek Tragedy - simplified:
Act One: He rose to glory.
Story Writing for BEGINNERSStory Writing for BEGINNERS in Writing More Like This
I want to write a story. I have a couple of ideas, but no idea what to do with them, or even how to begin! Help?!
-- Newbie Writer
So when you wanna write a story, where do you begin? With your PASSION!
Write what you KNOW & LOVE
What do you KNOW, really? What do you love to Do, to Study, to Think About, to Talk About...? Whether it's cave-diving, model trains, skate-boarding, sewing, horses, mythology, ghost legends, or particle physics your passion is where you will find your most unique and powerful work.
Make a list of all the things you know well and all the things you've done -- seriously! Mythology, history, any retail jobs you might have had -- anything you might have seen, done, or studied.
Sticking with your passions and your personal experiences also helps you make fewer MISTAKES.
Case in point, someone who has never kissed isn't going to be able to write a kissing scene as well as someone who Has. Worst of all,