Steps to Write the Story Which is Calling You:
a guest post by Hayley Zelda
You’ve got an idea in mind. It’s been settling in the crevices of your brain and growing during the quiet moments of your day. Now, it’s plaguing your sleep; a collection of random scenes haunting your dreams.
So you hear it?
As writers, ideas are our ghosts and good ideas linger to become stories. The challenge arrives, transforming that raw untapped potential into a creative and worthwhile product.
It calls you. How do you answer?
Decide on a Direction to Take
Often, that story in your head is less likely to be called a story and more of a mess. It’s a storm of characters, plot, scenes, and your interest. To write your story, determine your initial approach where you can maximize the elements of fiction to your advantage and eliminate sections of the idea you don’t actually need.
1. Follow a Structure
One classic structure is the Hero’s Journey. It’s divided into three acts (departure, initiation, and return) which break into a total of seventeen stages. Don’t be overwhelmed; know that this structure has been used and proven by many different writers throughout time. In fact, it’s still put to practice in the stories we know today. You can check some out here.
The Hero’s Journey, as its name implies, follows a hero (your character) into an adventure to a world different from his own. From there, he receives a calling, encounters challenges, and makes a divisive choice. Then he returns to his world, changed and powerful.
A good stage to note is Stage 15, The Return Threshold, where there’s no going back for your hero. Here, he is challenged to overcome the impossible obstacle by wielding all he has learned.
A more modern structure of the Hero’s Journey is Dan Harmon’s Story Circle. This time we follow eight steps that begin with your character in a zone of comfort towards having changed by the end.
As the writer of the animated series, Rick and Morty, Harmon has successfully applied this structure to his own stories and influenced other writers to do so. The Story Circle brings stories of characters with concise goals and a well-founded plot.
If your story is character driven, these structures are a helpful means of letting your character begin their adventure while lessening the risk of holes in your plot. Your story doesn’t need to be heroic or fantastical to use the Hero’s Journey or the Story Circle because their stages and steps reflect a universal approach. Learn how writers apply them through Commaful and Wattpad.
That’s why these structures are far from formulaic and permanent. They’re the service operator, letting you know which buttons to press, but in the end, you decide the direction. In learning these structures, you can play around and even develop your own.
2. Swerve Perspectives
In putting your story to paper, apply that flexibility by changing viewpoints. Think differently, literally.
Write from the perspective of your main character or go through your story with a third person point of view. You can even take a creative chance in trying out writing from the second person. Practice your technique here and here.
Each perspective grants a significant change in tone and style. In the same way, your story has its own shape and size, its own uniqueness. Figure out which perspective fits your story and tell it best from there.
From Thoughts to Words
Now that you have the aid of structure and the personality of perspective, it’s time to get some actual writing done.
Answer the call.
So, you put a few sentences down and begin getting into the groove of writing, yet you find yourself consistently punching the backspace key. You try again — write some and erase more — and now, you’ve fallen into a cycle.
Remember, first drafts are not meant to be the end all.
What’s most important is to get these thoughts into words, your idea into a tangible story. First drafts signify that there is a second or a third. You have the opportunity to go back and rework your story to the best form it can be.
For now, ignore the awkward pacing and grammatical errors. Let loose in writing; have fun. You have time to edit later, once you’ve written everything first.
Indeed, it can be scary to find yourself in the grip of a story, hear it calling you to pick up. Answer by following structure, swerving perspectives, and editing later on. When you’re applying these steps, keep in mind that writing this story is, ultimately, for you.
Wow! Such a helpful article for new writers... :) And I'm sure even seasoned ones can find some tips here.
Guest Blogger Bio
Hayley Zelda is a writer and marketer at heart. She's written on all the major writing platforms and worked with a number of self-published authors on marketing books to the YA audience.