The ABCs of How to Write a Good Story

A story is more than a beginning a middle and an end. Seasoned writers know that each part has a bunch of specific functions to perform. If any of them fail the story will be less than satisfying for the reader. This series is about more than the ABCs of how to write a good story. I’ll deep dive into how the right beginning, middle, and end can make a good story. But before we start, we need to find common definitions of terms writers throw around. There are hundreds of decisions to make before you start writing a story. The writer makes some of these decisions subconsciously and often makes them in a willy-nilly sort of order. Each writer’s process is different and that is okay. So, today we’re going start making decisions by defining the word story. What Is Story? There are hundreds of variations on the definition so I’m going to be arbitrary. I find Lisa Cron’s definition most accurate and useful. A story is about how the things that happen affect someone in pursuit of a difficult goal, and how that person changes as a result.–Story Genius by Lisa Cron There are stories where the person […]

Stories Need Structure

Reading is fundamentally part of being a writer. Many writers start off as a reader. And over time they decide to try to write their own stories. At least that’s how I started. Unfortunately, reading stories does not teach you how to write stories. Stories need structure even if it’s applied at a subconscious level. A Pantser at Heart A pantser is a writer who starts writing without a plan. Years ago, that was me. I’d start with a voice and an idea. Yup, my characters talked to me, or through me. But my stories were unsatisfying. There was no pace, very little conflict, and too often, very little story. They weren’t the stories I’d dreamed of writing. More than Beginning-Middle-End I’m sure you’ve all heard that stories need a beginning a middle and an end. But that’s not enough. Many stories have beginnings and middles and ends. What they don’t have is pace or structure or, sadly, compelling conflict. Indie authors suffer from this most ONLY because self-publishing makes it easy to put it out there before their writing has matured. There are plenty of traditionally published authors whose stories suffer from a lack of understanding story structure. As […]

If She Loves a Rag Doll, Is She Still Evil?

In My Soul to Keep, there is a character who is a murderous psychopath. She’s been purposely programmed to be that kind of person.  So how do you go about creating a story villain who’s truly evil but has some redeeming qualities? If she loves a rag doll, is she still evil? HOW Fortunately I had a mentor who knew how. How did he know? First, he’s smart. Second, he’s studied successful fiction and movies for a long time. What did he say to me that gave me a clue? He reminded me that a great story villain isn’t all villain all the time.. He also reminded me to look at the villains in books I’ve loved. For example, in Dean Koontz’s The Watchers there is a creature who had been created to be a destroyer, a murderer. He’s loathsome in appearance in and in deed. However, there’s a scene where the investigator-character discovers the monster’s lair. In the lair, the monstrous villain has treasured objects that include a collection of Disney branded toys and movies. It made this reader’s heart soften a touch toward the monster. And it made the monster more real, less one dimensional. WHAT I DID I […]