Look Around You
Think about your favorite stories. What is it that you like about them? Look at the world around you. What do you see? You can look at the forests, oceans, and creatures in them. Study the people around you and explore your neighborhood. Imagination can come from anywhere; you just need that spark!
Map out your story.
Where does the story take place? It could take place in a fairy tale land, on an undiscovered planet, or in your backyard. Use your imagination.
When does the story take place? Now? The future? The past? Or, is it in another world altogether?
What is going to happen in the story? You can always change your ideas, but it helps to have a basic idea of what will happen. It can be helpful to outline your story or list events and characters beforehand.
The opening line: This is the first impression your readers will have of your story. A clever opening line will grab the reader’s attention right out of the starting gate. Check out some famous stories and their opening lines to get an idea of how wonderful a clever opening sentence can be. Here are few great examples: Peter Pan, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Charlotte’s Web, Madeline, The Cat in the Hat, The Hobbit, Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone, and Little Women. Check them out!
Introduction: introduce the characters, setting, and conflict. It’s important to paint a picture in the reader’s head. The best stories are the ones that make you feel as though you are right there seeing what the characters are seeing and experiencing what they experience.
The conflict: This is the main point or problem in the story. The conflict is like the hinge that the story is opening and closing on. It’s a good idea to have a basic idea of what the conflict will be before writing. Then, you can develop your story and characters around this important piece.
Rising Action: A series of events that lead to the conflict. The rising action is the build-up. It establishes the story, develops the characters and prepares us for what’s to come.
Climax: This is the main point of the plot or the destination to where you’ve been leading the reader. It should be the highest point of emotion and interest. It’s the moment that has your heart beating fast and your mind running through thoughts of, “how is this going to end?”
Resolution: This is where the story sums up. It is where the conflict is settled. It’s your job to decide how your story will end. Will it be a happy ending or a tragedy?
J.R.R Tolkien, the writer of the Hobbit, said of fairy tale endings, “Almost I would venture to assert that all complete fairy-stories must have it (A happy ending)…The consolation of fairy-stories, the joy of the happy ending: or more correctly of the good catastrophe, the sudden joyous “turn” (for there is no true end to any fairy-tale): this joy, which is one of the things which fairy-stories can produce supremely well, is not essentially ‘escapist’, nor ‘fugitive’. In its fairy-tale—or otherworld—setting, it is a sudden and miraculous grace: never to be counted on to recur. It does not deny the existence of dyscatastrophe, of sorrow and failure: the possibility of these is necessary to the joy of deliverance; it denies (in the face of much evidence, if you will) universal final defeat and in so far is evangelium, giving a fleeting glimpse of Joy, Joy beyond the walls of the world, poignant as grief.”
Maybe your story is a tragedy. Tragedies can be a great way to teach a lesson or moral value. For example, the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet might have a lesson about impulsiveness and immaturity. Another example is Icarus from the Greek myth. His tragedy teaches us about recklessness. What is your story trying to accomplish?
Who is going to be in your story?
Characters are super important. If the plot is the backbone of the story, great characters are the heart of the story. They can bring your story to life and can make lasting impressions on imaginations. When creating characters, ask yourself, “What kind of personality do they have?” Are they funny, serious, exuberant, melancholy? Is there something unique about them, (are they an animal, superhero, in a wheelchair, etc..) How will your characters grow? What will they learn?
They say, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
Help spice up your story by adding some colorful illustrations. You could draw, paint, color, whatever you want. Adding some pictures will be the cherry on top. If you don’t feel like drawing a lot of illustrations, that’s ok. Maybe think about just designing a cover page!
Goodluck writing! You can do anything you put your mind to. All it takes is perseverance and determination. Here’s one last tip – to be a great writer, it’s important to be a good listener. We can sharpen our storytelling skills by learning from others. A good place to start is by reading and listening to great stories. Read and study Shakespeare, Dickens, C.S. Lewis, J.M. Barry, etc. There are so many wonderful stories out there that will strengthen, not just your writing skills, but your mind.
Now get going! 🙂