If you want to do some story writing, this is how…
When story writing, it’s important to remember that a story doesn’t all come at once, it comes in parts.
Sometimes I think of the story-line first, other times I think of a world for my story to be set in, or other times, I have some characters in my head. It really doesn’t matter which you do first, but it important that you do all three of these things.
For story writing you need:
1. Some characters.
2. A world or a ‘setting’ as it is known.
3. What you want to happen in the story or the ‘storyline.’
1. Who is the story about? I want to write a story about a deep-sea explorer called Roger.
2. Where is the story set? If he’s a deep-sea explorer, of course, it’s set underneath the ocean.
3. What do I want to happen in the story? Well, it’d be good if he finds a strange sea creature that has never been discovered before.
Now I have the three most important parts what else do I need for Story Writing?
Now you need to ask yourself some questions.
1. Let’s start with our main character, Roger. What does he look like? Imagine it in your head. Try and see his face and the clothes he wears and even the kind of voice he has. This will give you the first idea of what your character’s personality is like. A good story character has to have an interesting personality.
So, ask yourself is Roger a funny or silly character, or is he serious? It is important to know your character well. You need to think like them, feel what they would feel and even see their world through their eyes. If not, a character will never be convincing. If it sounds difficult, just close your eyes and imagine that’s all you have to do.
And the questions we ask ourselves don’t stop there:
Does he have any friends or companions?
He can work alone, or he can have lots of companions if I want, but for my example, I want him to have one companion called Lucy.
So now ask yourself, what is Roger and Lucy’s relationship? Is she his friend, his colleague, his wife, his sister, his mum or his girlfriend?
I think she will be the pilot of his submarine, he’s the captain and they are friends.
You see, with each question you ask yourself and answer, the better you get to know your character.
2. Let’s look at the setting now, again ask yourself questions. Is it set in the future, in the past or is it in the present?
I think I’ll set it in the future, say, a hundred years from today.
What do things look like below the sea? What creatures live there? What will they see on their journey?
You can look at pictures from underneath the sea or we’ve all seen T.V. shows about ocean life, so we have an idea of what it would be like down there. We’ll fill in the rest with a little imagination.
So now we have our setting our story can begin.
Story writing: How to start the adventure
I bet you’ve been told at school just as I was, that a story needs a beginning, a middle and an end, but what is a beginning?
A beginning is the start of something and a story can start in the middle of something if you want, so I won’t call it the beginning, I’ll call it ‘setting the scene’ instead.
So, you can if you want, start with the normal sort of thing like:
1. Once upon a time, there was a brave submarine captain called Roger. He and his helmswoman (driver of a submarine) Lucy, were taking their usual patrol of the deep ocean bed.
Or you can start it like this.
2. Roger shook as the cold water flowed all around him. The alarm sounded over and over as he desperately tried to awaken Lucy.
Number 1, is a beginning and number 2, isn’t really, but which one’s more exciting? The thing is, they both set a scene and give our story an immediate feel. The feel is important because that feel will continue throughout the story. Neither way is wrong or right, and you can experiment with both types as I do and see if you can think of different ways of your own.
Story Writing: The Middle of a Story
This really depends how long your story is. If say, you only want to write one page, you have to get to the point quickly, but if your writing 300 pages, you’ll need to have more ideas to fill it. To be honest, it’s better to write the story that you want, rather than worry about how many pages long it is.
The middle is the part of the story I like to call ‘the imagination.’ This is where you can get lost in your story, where the adventure happens. So, you need to think what you want your characters to do.
I wanted Roger and Lucy to find a strange sea creature on their normal patrol. Now I have to work out if it’s a scary creature, if it’s funny or if it’s simply amazing. I have to work out how they find it. Does it spring out of the shadows and scare them? Do they try and rescue it because it’s injured? Does it just show up one day?
This is when you need to close your eyes and dream. Imagine it in your mind’s eye. How do they get there? What does the creature look like? What world are they in? How do they feel? This is where the imagination comes in. You have to answer all these questions but don’t worry, it’s a lot easier than it sounds.
Story Writing: You’ve started your story but you’re not sure where to go next.
It’s useful to know before you write too much, how you want your story to end. I sometimes know the beginning before I start writing, and sometimes I know the end first. Other times, I know the whole story. It never comes the same way twice, but within writing a couple of chapters, I know what the end will be. So now I can take my beginning and steer it on a path to where the end will be. And that path, is the middle of the story or ‘the imagination.’
Another thing to remember is: That as you go along your characters have to grow or change to keep it captivating. You see, in a story, something remarkable and life changing is happening to the characters, otherwise it wouldn’t be a good story.
A story about someone going to the shop and buying some milk would be a snore-fest, but if someone robs the shop while they’re there, it’s more exciting. Such incredible experiences will naturally change that person as they go. Just as our experiences change us. It could be for the better, it could be for the worst, but if you water them with a little imagination, they will start to grow.
Story Writing: The End
The end is really the most important part of a story because it ties everything else together. Many authors frustratingly, rush the end. You should take your time and say what you want to say, the way you want to say it. You’ve put all that work in, there’s no point rushing it now. It’s like making an amazing cake that smells and looks amazing and then throwing a load of gravy instead of icing over it and ruining it.
Remember the end is the most powerful thing, the final say, the last word. How do you want it to end? Will it be happy? Will it be sad? Will it be a tear-jerker, or a tragedy, or even a happily ever after? That is all in your hands and in your mind. The most important thing is to leave an impression on the reader of your tale, and if it’s one that lasts, you’ve nailed it!
Story Writing: Other Things to Know
The first draft of anything is rubbish:
I write all my stories three times. I write the story. Then I go back and improve the wording and add any other great ideas I have, and then, I go back again and polish it up. It sounds like a lot of work, but I guarantee, that way you will get all you can from your very own amazing story. (Although I do accept this is very difficult in a class at school.)
Take your time:
So, you haven’t got the whole story plotted, but what’s the rush? Write down ideas over time until you’ve got a complete picture. When I have an idea for a story I often just write the first little bit and some notes, (I have dozens in my computer that are at this stage). I don’t worry about it, I’ll get to them when I’m ready. They’re there, waiting to be created.
If you hate writing stories, I’d probably suggest it’s not really for you and you should try craft, or art or playing an instrument instead, (I do all of these things,) you’ll find something that suits you. When I write a funny story like ‘The War of the Turnips,’ or ‘The Secret Tale of a Cupboard Gnome,’ or even ‘Flesh and Blood,’ I laugh away to myself as I think of the silly things the characters say or do. Sometimes I feel terrible because of a bad thing that’s happening to my character. You really do grow close to them, after all, nobody knows them better than you.
If you still don’t know what to write about: Why not try writing about Captain Roger, Lucy and the sea creature for more great ideas. And keep an eye out for the great, how to write a story game that will be coming to kid’s corner soon.
Make it Happen
So, go forward warriors of the pen. Don’t worry so much about spelling and grammar that will come in time. The more you write, the better you’ll be, but to be honest, I’m completely useless at grammar and spelling but I have somebody that does that for me. (None of us can be good at everything no matter how hard we try.) I would never let that stop me from being a wizard of words, I find, the most important thing in story writing is imagination.
If you can dream it, it can happen, in the words of a story.
Barry Brunswick is a children’s author. You can buy his children’s books on Amazon, The War of The Turnips, The Secret Tale of the Cupboard Gnome, Sally the Astronaut, and the new short story collection Barry S. Brunswick’s Tall Tales. Follow Barry on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.