Craft a story by sweating out hard answers to simple questions
|Storytelling craft can be exercised by answering a series of questions. They can be used both to stimulate creativity and to diagnose weaknesses in a story.
The questions are simple. The answers, which will be particular to the story, are likely to be very, very hard. Sweat over them.
Note: The phrase "clear and specific" is commonly used in the mini-articles linked below. "Clear" means that there is no vagueness as to what is desired. "Specific" means that it is particular and unique. It is also best that the answer name something concrete as well.
Example. Why is the protagonist flying to Oregon? "To get rich" is vague and non-specific. "To collect the winning lottery ticket his grandfather left him" is clear and specific. Moreover, it is concrete.
Quick rule of thumb: Can the answer be photographed? If the answer is "No," it is probably too vague or non-specific.
These mini-articles are adapted from Dwight V. Swain's Techniques of the Selling Writer (available through Amazon in both paper and ebook form) with a pungent assist in some places by David Mamet.
* "Six Questions That Will Give You a Story"
A story is not a plot. It is not an idea. It is the answer to these six questions.
* "Nine Questions That Will Drive a Plot"
Don't know what happens next? Answer these nine questions.
* "Six Questions That Will Create Drama"
Stick this list at the top of every writing project.
* "Eight Questions to Hook the Reader"
Don't "grab" the reader. Earn attention by satisfying curiosity.
* "Three Ways to End a Story (Good and Bad)"
Here's how (and how not) to wrap up your story.
* "One Rule for Vivid Writing"
One rule will tell you what to put in ... and what to leave out.