How to Construct a Solid Gold Story

When you start writing a story it can be a lot like panning a river for gold. When you put your pan into the river of ideas, you’ll get a lot of pebbles and sand and debris. You have to rock the pan back and forth until only the good stuff remains. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of fools gold found when panning for story ideas. If you don’t know structure your story you may end up with a lot of fools gold instead of a solid story. But wait, you say. I’m a pantser, I don’t plan my story. Whether you’re a pantser or a planner, you can construct a solid gold story.  Forces of Antagonism One of the early things I do in constructing a story is to create what Robert McKee calls the Forces of Antagonism. This was a concept I struggled with for a long time. In his book, McKee says the forces of antagonism represent “the sum total of all forces that oppose the character’s will and desire.” Huh? He contends that the more powerful and complex the forces of antagonism are, the more realistic the character becomes.  “THE PRINCIPLE OF ANTAGONISM: A protagonist and his […]

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 […]