Please be advised this is not an indepth manual on how to produce an award winning piece of fiction. I am just paraphrasing and consolidating what I so far have learned.
So you would like to write a story and want to know where to start ? How about what kind of story. A horror ? a love story ? a comedy ? or an historical drama ? Whatever it is don’t try to bust your butt trying to be original. Of course you can be original but most stories are retelling of old ones and all contain similar traits. A hero starts out on some kind of adventure etc, etc, then comes up againts a problem, etc, etc…and resolves it.
All stories have an arc; a beginning, a middle, and an end. All stories have characters who can be people that are far removed from who you are and who you know, but could be who you wished to be, and who you wished to kill.
Sounds extreme: Kill, but a good story needs bad things to happen, or something to happen, anything because when the bad things have occurred your character now has something to do. Resolve the problem, save that girl, marry that guy, find the treasure.
Of course, it’s never easy. There is always someone or something that gets in the way; the girl just doesn’t love you or has a bad husband, a troll is in the forest or the money that is tucked up safely in the bank. So we move on to the next ingredients.
Action, Drama, Emotion; a hurdle for your hero to climb, resolve, or get over. Doing this alone would be boring so add some more characters along the way; funny ones, mystical ones; ones that only exist in the mind, and take you on a journey with them or try to kill you on the way.
Don’t forget to make your characters real. What do they look like? What accents do they have? What type of person are they? You can either show this through descriptive narrative or through dialogue. You don’t have to be painstakingly precise, the rule, less is more works here, and throughout your story.
What about the world in which your characters live? Is it contemporary, dystopian, utopian, or surreal? Don’t go into too much detail when explaining their environment unless it is necessary, ‘Jack had a cool car, it was midnight blue with blacked out windows, and the wheels had rims that practically blinded you’ for example, but not, ‘The engine was a 6.6 litre with fuel injection included and a nice green trim around the edges of the leather seat’. You get my drift? Only describe it, if it is necessary to the setting, or says something about the character, or sets the scene.
It’s coming to the end now and your character has nearly got the girl, treasure, money, but have they changed? Is your character still the same as when they started the journey? Would you be the same after a perilous journey? Would you have rid yourself of all your fears, gained new strengths, or just put the ball in the basket and walked home to a hero’s welcome.
Like I say this is a beginner’s introduction. As I learn, so will you too.