“Too many writers think that all you need to do is write well, but that is only part of what a good book is. Above all, a good book tells a story. Focus on the story first. Ask yourself, ‘Will other people find this story so interesting that they will tell others about it?’ Remember: A best-selling book usually follows a simple rule, ‘It’s a wonderful story, wonderfully told’; not, ‘It’s a wonderfully told story.” -Nicholas Sparks
All stories have a single core purpose– to cater to the fundamental human need. Stories are an arrangement of words and images designed to evoke responses from the targeted audience, whether physical, psychological or emotional response. The thing that is most personal is most universal too. Stories should be familiar and fresh at the same time.
Here are a few things to keep in mind while penning down a story:
• Stories should contain the following elements– Characters, Setting, Conflict, Plot, Dialogue, Text/Subtext, Theme, Voice, Style and Movement.
• There are two kinds of stories: Plot driven story and Character driven story. Character-driven stories focus more on the internal change in the characters than the events and situations. Plot-driven stories focus on the actual happenings and the external changes of the story.
• External surface and an internal landscape makes an interesting read. A good story always moves between Interior-Exterior and Relationship-Plotline. It should be a balance between action and characterization. It is important for the author to develop beloved characters and put them through the toughest challenges so that readers stay hooked and genuinely look forward to the resolution.
• Protagonist is the main focal point of your story. They are there to make the audience feel what they are feeling. They are the emotional guide, the ferry ride for the audience. The story shapes up when the protagonist steps into action.
• Stories need oxygen of conflict to stay alive. Start with a disruption and then look for the questions. A story should answer the questions – Who? What? When? Why? How? – Who are these people? What are the holes in our characters, the missing pieces, the ghosts of the past, the misinterpretations? Why should the audience care for your story? How are these characters going to resolve their issues and reach a resolution?
• A story should contain Text and Subtext. According to Iceberg theory of Ernest Hemingway, the deeper meaning of a story should not be evident on the surface. The unsaid subtext should be felt after reading the text. This makes the story more meaningful and powerful.
• Backstory is the background of the story, the past, an unfinished business. It is the story of the past that won’t stay in the past. It is important to insert the backstory at relevant places to reveal new insights into the characters at regular intervals.
The above mentioned points are just a few things to keep in mind while shaping your ideas into a story. There is a lot more coming up. Stay tuned.