My reshearch paper. And that is all I have.
The Writing Basics
Many have the ability to write a short story or novel, but can’t fathom the fact that they posses the talent to produce a masterpiece. All that is truly essential is an idea. How many times has one thought “what if's.” No matter how realistic or offlandish a lot of those thoughts could very well be a prizewinner! But no matter the genre or originality of the story idea the primary steps to produce a masterpiece remain the same.
The first element one absolutely needs, now that one has chosen to write, is a plot. Wither one is writing a novel, novella or short story there is always a demand for a plot. The plot is what drives the characters' actions and behavior to achieve their goal. It is the “what if” situation that has to be formed into the backbone of one’s story. Without it everything falls apart. “[Plot] charts the character's development through their actions” (James N. Fey). Without it, one’s characters could be running around the chicken yard with their heads cut off. Plot is the reason that one’s characters do certain things. For example: Joe steals a car. Does one know why Joe stole the car? No. What if one knew that the mafia was after him for money and he needed a quick getaway. That is plot.
But not all plots could last as long as one planned. One do need to choose a plot line that will carry the weight one want it to have. Let's take Joe again and he has still stolen a car. But instead of the persistent mafia Joe is scared about how his date will go and gets leaves. Joe is obviously overacting and has issues. Don't over exaggerate the situation and don't under exaggerate either. Some plots aren’t just meant to be the best seller.
One thing that many writers just want to deny that they have or need is a theme. Many cringe at the question the teacher would ask. "What is the theme of the book?" Many authors even go to the extent to say that their story has no theme. But there are three very simple steps to how build one's theme. The first step is to make a life-changing event occur in one character's life. A small town girl has moved to the big city to go to school. The second step is to introduce uncertainly. Her new acquaintance needs money, should she give it to her? Drawing experience from her old life and what her personality she gives her friend the money, but fails to realize that her new "friend" used it for drugs before she knew what she was getting herself into. Thus with a new lesson learned the next time she faces a problem she has a choice: the old way or the new way. And the third step is to have the character face the problem at every complication. In our example's case something with trust, her upbringing, fitting in, or a variety of situations that one can make out of it.
Now on to complications. All good stories need complications. No matter how well one writes their story its just plain boring without complications. Has one ever heard someone that has made up a story on the spot just to get the kid to shut up at bedtime? There once was a bunny. The bunny can’t find his favorite toy. Then one day he found it and lived happily ever after. The end. Didn’t one notice anything wrong? It was a story. There was a plot, character, beginning, middle, and a resolution. Complications! Something that has to reveal, prevent, or alter the character’s goal (Monica Woods). Couldn’t the bunny go off somewhere in hopes to find his favorite toy and get lost, but is still determined to search. Number of things could go wrong for the poor bunny. A complication has to encourage the character to act with purpose (Monica Woods). He finds a bad toad that has been roaming the countryside stealing toys. Now the bunny must act; that evil toad might have his toy! Of course one would want an exciting complication, some might think a large disastrous event will equal a good complication. Now comes the next point. “Good complications are connected to [the] character – they usually stir some kind of desire or regret, conscious or unconscious in the character” (Monica Woods). The complication has to mean something to the character. Replace the evil toy-snatching toad with massive earthquake and a helpless puppy is about to fall over a cliff. Of course the bunny helps him, but that is just a reaction, not an action compelled by desire or regret. What if before the massive earthquake the bunny hears of a puppy that knows where his lost toy is and when he sees the poor puppy of course he is going to save him. Here the bunny is showing a desire to find his toy. Both complications show a point of departure; when the reader can learn more about the character. With the toy-snatching toad how our bunny acts speak louder than words. Will he fight, sneak up while the toad is sleeping and steal the bag, or try to reason with the toad? With the puppy. How will he save him? There is another mistake commonly made; telling the different between a true complication and just a situation where the character will just react instead of act. Just remember there is a different between acting and reacting.
Creating believable characters is also very important on the kind of impact one gives one’s readers. First one needs to choose the age, gender or oner main character based on the type genre one are writing (Evan Marshall). For example in most romance novels women are the main characters as in westerns a gunslinger he-man is mostly the main character. The one of the first steps to creating a character is to predetermine qualities such as height, weight, age, coloring, body type, and distinguishing physical features like scars or tattoos, and type of clothing. This is first dimension characteristics; the things one would first see and observe when one first meets someone (Stephanie Kay Bendel). A picture is needed of the character in the reader’s mind. The second ingredient when one is writing their characters, it is best to introduce them as they are doing something that reflects their personality (Stephanie Kay Bendel). Don’t show just what they do but how they do things. These are second dimension characteristics. Third dimension traits are revealed when the character is observed interacting or reacting to circumstances. Through this one can show a multitude of different traits such as intelligence, sensitivity levels, social type, ect. Recognize one's character’s greatest strength; the traits that set them apart from everyone else. Also show one’s character’s worst faults and weaknesses to keep them likable. Third dimensional traits are often shown in dialogue. Repeated behaviors can also be third dimensional traits. The fourth dimension includes both private and public persona. A public persona is how a character is perceived by others most of the time. The private persona is who the character is within there mind stripped of all pretense and deception. To answer the question why they do certain things can add to the character’s private persona. Another way to reveal private persona is to introduce a piece of information that no one else knows (Stephanie Kay Bendel). Emotion as well is a good way to connect to the reader. Emotions are used to help portray why character behaves in certain ways and how they would behave or react (Kathy Jackson). Make sure that one shows the character’s strengths that set them apart from the crowd, but also reveal the weaknesses and faults to keep them likable.
Point of view is another essential element of writing that is determined by who is telling the story and to whom. Choosing a point of view is important to how the story is perceived and written. There are many pros and cons to each different POV (point of view). In first person the narrator is the character themselves, but all of the events, actions, and thoughts are limited to the character can observe. Second person else is directly being addressed as "one.” The "one' the writer is referring to may be the reader, humanity, society, or other implied characters. In third person unlimited, also known as omniscient point of view, the narrator uses he, she, it and can tell everything internal or external around the characters. There are no boundaries with this POV. In third person outer limited only external, observable behaviors and dialogue are shown. The narrator is merely the fly on the wall. Third person inner limited is completely opposed to the previous POV. In inner limited only the character's thoughts and feelings are shown. And combos are a mixture of different POVs.
Quoting F. Scott Fitzgerald “The world only exists in one’s eyes – one’s conception of it. One can make it as big or small as one want to.” This relates to the setting of one’s story. Setting's purpose could be to advance the plot, increase tension, set mood, or to bring out one’s character clearly. Where they live could answer the reason why they talk, dress, or speak the way they do. One of the most important things to where one’s story will take place is to consider a setting where the plot and characters are more effective and as well as believable (Kim Kay). One wouldn’t want a space hero in the midst of an old western town trying to find the Star of Zappa. Also one need to consider the time period one will choose. The setting needs to be believable as well whither it is real or fictional. It is the smaller details that make it believable. What the street sounds like in the morning. What time one can expect the neighbors to leave or beginning fighting? Where to go when one wants to have a good time. Many things that only the people that have been there would know. One would want to develop a clear picture of the location as possible (Kim Kay). Use the five senses to describe one’s setting to the reader. How does the smell of pine sweep through the window on a chilly night or how annoying is that creaky broken fan that bleeds through the paper-thin walls? Show the setting as though one have been there. Tell the reader that one know that his is where the ice cream shop, don’t try to persuade them.
May times when dealing with writing one hear the phrase “Show, don’t tell.” This is a golden rule to better hold the attention of the reader. Show the reader the story’s contents through actions and emotion rather through exposition (Jack M. Bickham). Don’t just tell the reader what is happening let them decipher it for them selves. For example: Frank is nervous. That statement is dull and gives no real life to the moment. It tells nothing: how nervous is he, how does is he nervous? Try this version, Frank’s hands made their dance across his collar, buttons then resting briefly on his lap before making their continual dance across his clothes. His assessing eyes flicked over the room only to return to the clock in the corner. In that statement did I never say that he was nervous, but one could tell by the actions that he was in fact nervous. Like in real life one evaluation emotions by actions. Actions always speak louder than words. Imagine the impressions that the character is experiencing. Present the impressions as vividly and briefly as possible as well as show them in a logical order (Jack M. Bickham). The same thing can be used to describe one’s characters. One could talk endlessly on how the characters his what he does, but it just is boring. Don’t lecture, show.
Johnson lumbered into the office making the ceiling appear a foot shorter. His usual facial tic under his left eye that leaped was accompanied by his occasional bloodshot eye. He swooped into an empty desk chair drumming across the desktop. After looking at his watch not once, but twice, he glared at Mary. “Alright,” he whipped. “I don’t have all day.”
What did one conclude about Johnson from that passage? Quick, impatient, busy, high-level stress job. Not once did I have to mention any of those words. Try another version.
Johnson was tall and looked stressed as he walked in to the office. He sat into the deckchair. He looked at his watch twice before speaking quickly, “Alright, I don’t have all day.”
Which did one prefer? Even though the “Show, don’t tell” rule is important there are times that exposition is best. The best time to “tell” is when the data is essential to understand, when is can’t be told through action, and when the data itself is fascinating (Jack M. Bickham). But there are plenty of times that one can reveal portions of data through dialogue.
Now lets get into the details of story writing. Details are used to make the story more believable. And the more unfamiliar the situation the more details is needed (Donna Levin). For instance the situation is driving a car. That process doesn’t need much explanation since it is common and an everyday experience, but what if one was driving a heavily armored tank on the battlefield. Describe how hot and cramped it is inside, name the various instruments used in controlling that monstrous machine, illustrate the anxiety, sounds and smells that one would experience in that situation. But be specific (Donna Levin).
One needs to hook the reader within a certain amount of paragraphs, pages, or even sentences. The day beginning with the character waking up in the morning to do their daily routine is dull and trite. Instead you could begin with them waking up hogtied in an abandoned warehouse after with a gun to their head. An opening scene should show the main charater(s), or foreshadow them both, establish the setting, the tone, and the area of conflict as well. As for the body of the story it should be presented in scenes. In each scene the problem should be confronted every time unless it will seem out of place. The ending needs to be a conclusion of all of the conflict. The main character must confront the problem head on. There can be different out comes: the character could defeat the problem, be defeated, or just learn to live with it. All of the loose ends need to be tied up about that specific problem. Answers need to be answered and problems solved.
These rudiments are the same whether the type of literary work is a screenplay, novel, short story, novella, or a simple children’s’ story. No matter the length, genre, or style the prime elements of a good story are always the same.
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