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Monday, 22 April 2013

S is for - Story

Man Reading A Book - Flicker Commons

What makes a good story? In my view, a quick start, jumping into the action fast, grabbing your readers attention, hanging onto it, and when you get to the end, finish it quickly!

Having a strong theme, and unforgettable characters is good. I want to read about characters I can identify with, they have to move me, and take me to somewhere I wasn't expecting to go - characters make story.

Do you plan exactly where you're going with your story? Is everything worked out before you begin tapping those keys? I'm the sort of writer who gallops off with very little idea, perhaps I've been given a  single word to stimulate an idea, or I've seen something, or overheard a conversation, I'm quite impulsive, and happy to see where the story leads me. Reckless perhaps?

Maybe you work out the beginning and ending, and leave the middle to take care of itself? Or do you plan every detail before you begin? After all it gives you confidence when you know where you're going. You probably won't stray from your idea, and you'll know your characters before you begin. Is this how you work?

It seems a little too technical to me, and I wouldn't have half as much fun if I knew what was going to happen, but then my 'seat of the pants' method is probably why I have so much editing...

Do share with me how you plan your stories.

Happy Monday.

13 comments:

  1. Interesting post! I can't even imagine having every detail worked out before I begin, but I know there are writers who work that way. I tend to start with a character (or a couple of characters) and a situation, including a couple of conflicts and complications, and then I dive in. I sometimes have both beginning and middle reasonably well thought out, but the endings I try to keep flexible.

    My feeling is that you can do a great whack of pre-work before you begin or a great whack of editing after. Six of one, really--and I prefer the latter!

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    1. I'm in your camp, I've tried putting a foot in the other camp but it doesn't feel natural for me.

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  2. Good post, Maria. I'm a complete 'pantser' on short-form stuff, but for longer pieces I like to have a very rough idea of where I'm going. Not very detailed, but just a sentence for each chapter. This then allows me to wander off as necessary but always find my way back to the path.

    Either way, I can't give lots of detail, it's just not in my nature. Like you, my main focus has now become on the edit!

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    1. Getting it written in first draft is a marathon of words, but the real work begins with the edit!

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  3. Great post. Pantser here.. I have a theme. Usually.. That's it.. If the theme's complicated I have to do more planning.. ok, some planning.. which then allows me to gallop through letting it go where the characters want to take it.
    Ahh!! That's why I have so much editing to do now! Why didn't I realise that?
    I've not tried one fully planned and think I'd be bored when I tried to write it. Might give it a go though if it means less editing at the other end..

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    1. I did try it once - it didn't feel natural to me at all, I really wish I could hack doing it that way though as it probably saves major rewriting.

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  4. I've got it all worked out for my novel because it's historical fiction in that there are a number of actual events that I'm exploring ... playing with is more like it ... to see what will happen if I take one and make it the cause of the other with yet another being the result of all that. I don't know what that says about me, but I can't help that kind of 'meshing' stuff to make other stuff ... like a witches brew (must've been one in a past life).

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    1. I'm in awe...interestingly, I often do a mind map to get ideas for a short story, but its very random, not at all detailed or planned. And maybe you were a witch in the last life... ;-)

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  5. I think if I planned, I'd spend all my time doing that and not actually do any writing. My 'planning' happens in my head over a long period of time - I'll have a feeling about the story that I can't pinpoint. Last week, for example, I was listening to a song and I know there's a story in it, but it'll take a long time to draw it out. It's probably a unique way to work... not good for writing profusely!

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  6. I'm not a writer Maria, but I can always tell when a story isn't plotted out well. Very important.
    -Maurice Mitchell
    The Geek Twins

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  7. I tend to jump into my stories head first without looking. Which makes for less than smooth sailing, but eventually, word by word, I get the story figured out and written. Editing is when I make the story smooth and shiny.

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  8. I spoke to a friend who writes and she plans every little detail out,she has planners and graphs and it scared me to death.I don't write books and maybe if I did it would be different but I just write whatever comes into my head I think I would be bored stiff doing it the other way.

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  9. My favourite short stories to write are the twist in the tail variety. I feel fertive

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