How to Write a Story: Part 3

How to write a good story part 3

Know Thy Story…

At this point let’s just review what you have already seen in my earlier posts. I spoke about the moments when you sit in front of your blank screen or page. Remember, these words that you read now didn’t exist until they were written in a blank space. It is very easy to write once you connect with yourself. Hence, in the first post I covered the aspects behind the wisdom of knowing yourself and its subsequent effect on your writing style. I, then, delved into the logic behind knowing your audience. You may enjoy writing for your own self. But being a writer you will have an audience, and as a writer, you owe it to your audience to deliver unto them some value. For this, it is advisable to understand your audience. These concepts organically flow to the last piece of the puzzle; the story…

Inspiration is tricky, it happens to everyone but not many sense it. I choose to see it as a pure moment of utmost clarity where everything just falls into place, like a dense fog on a cold morning that just cleared for you to catch a glimpse of the golden horizon. It is beautiful if you catch it in its fleeting moments. Once you start applying your creativity these moments of clarity would become more often. It will come by when you nonchalantly walk the streets, maybe listen to some music, watching a lone leaf drift through the breeze. Inspiration will happen. You just have to be prepared to interpret it and recreate it in your work.

Your story may develop in your mind in an instant, or it may take a decade to build up to perfection. Through out this time you would live with this story in your mind, like a passing roommate that makes you smile.

It isn’t enough to have a story; you have to know your story. You are tasked to introduce your story to the world. No other person is expected to know your story better than you. To express your story you have to be in touch with the emotions or idea it inspires within you. It would, ideally, be your intention to inspire the same in another person. You may ask many writers and they would agree that it is extremely satisfying to touch another person’s heart or mind through your work.

To know your story is to be fair to it.

Don’t force it into existence. It has become evident in your vision on its own. It’s not a product that you design by putting in the ideal components. This, however, is also a trick many writers use, but I shall not advise it. In my view, manufacturing a story according to an audience would not give you the creative satisfaction you deserve. But again, it’s just my own view.

Your story would, ideally, have a structure, a message, and a ‘connect’.

The structure basically involves the set-up and background of your story. The characters and their identities would carry the story and give shape to it. The character can be anything that you utilize to personify an emotion. It can be any person, city, or thing that you impart a character sketch to. Even the finer things in your set-up like an old grandfather clock in an empty room which chimes off its presence. These things set up the scene and give structure to your flow. Try to visualize your story, if you can, and it would do wonders for your control over the proceedings.

The message is an abstract idea within your story. Not all stories would have an obvious or overt message. Your message maybe just a reflection over the storyline or the characters. It is best left for the reader to figure out the message of your story. A message, in essence, is the direction your story takes. Again, this is not a dead set rule, as for every rule in writing, there are many exceptions. Your story can function without an obvious direction. But there would be something in it that fills a space in the mind of the reader. This would be the message, the direction, of your story.

The last essential part of your story, and the most important part, is the ‘connect’. You should make a connect with your reader as they read your story. You should understand that this connect would require a conscious commitment from the reader. It is not something that you dish out in your story, it is something you create outside the confines of your story. A person may reminisce after reading your story, this is a connect. Another person may smile, or frown after reading your story, this is a connect. It is an art to instigate emotions in your reader. This can only be done by the connect.

The connect is the moment where your work ceases to be a collection of words and becomes a story in the mind of the reader.

A reader, your audience, would remember this story for what it made them feel, the connect. But while creating this connect, beware of the urge to manipulate the reader. If the reader identifies this manipulation it would turn them off and they would loose interest in your story. Manipulation would mean that you are forcing them to feel things by intentionally creating emotionally charged situations. You should let the connect develop on its own. If you have a strong story set up with an intriguing message, it would eventually connect with someone somewhere. That is again a characteristic of a connect, you can’t instill the same connect with different groups of people, something you may have seen in the preceding post covering the art of knowing your audience. I guess that’s why they call it genres. Rest assured, a good story would always find a good reader.

 

I would like to conclude my thoughts by telling you the one rule that I stand by while I write… that there are no rules. Pick up a pen or take up a screen and unleash your creativity in the best way you can. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, not even me.

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