The Five Basic Essentials For A Great Story
Baking the Pie
Imagine you are baking a pie. You organize all the ingredients you will need and you start mixing those ingredients together in a specific order. When the mixing and matching is done you pop that sucker in the oven and a little while later out comes a pie.
So it is with writing a story. There are certain ingredients that must be used. How you mix and match them is your job as a writer, but without those ingredients you will not have a pie. You might end up with something edible if you skip one of the ingredients, but it won’t be delicious, and delicious is what we are after as writers.
Let me tell you about my day last Friday. I got up, ate breakfast and wrote articles.
Did I just tell you a story? Of course not! I just gave you a brief synopsis of what was actually a very rewarding day, but I left out some ingredients. What you got was the crust and nothing more and my friends, a pie is so much more than just the crust.
So, what ingredients do you need to write a great story?
An interesting video
Right out of the chute we find the first main ingredient, found at the beginning of any good story. Here we must grab the readers by the throat and capture their attention. Here was must establish the setting for the story and here we must set the mood and tone.
Here we must also introduce the main protagonist of our story, the person we want our readers to associate with and give a damn about. If we do not introduce an interesting character early on then chances are excellent we will lose our readers early on. Readers want to care about the protagonist, and it is our job as writers to give them a reason to care.
It is usually best at this stage to introduce your protagonist in their natural setting, or their normal life. That way we have a basis from which transformation will occur as the story develops.
It is now time to turn your main character’s life inside out and upside down. Their normal life is now shattered and they must solve the crisis as the story continues.
The crisis, of course, depends on the genre of the story. It could be an emotional crisis, a physical crisis, a psychological crisis or a combination of those. It could lead to a quest or it could lead to solving a mystery.
The two most common ways of introducing a crisis is to either snatch away something that is valuable to your main character, or entice that character with something they badly desire. Either way is effective and leads to great adventure for the reader.
The crisis deepens and the transformation of your character continues to take place.
Listen, one of the reasons a good book or story is a good book or story is because the main character undergoes change. We, the readers, have invested ourselves in the main characters, and we almost feel the change that they are undergoing. Your protagonist must change during the story; that is the whole point of conflict and it is the definition of transformation. For a main character to blithely go through 300 pages of a novel and not change is unimaginable and unforgiveable.
During the escalation part of the story, the protagonist is taking steps to solve the crisis and return to a life before the crisis occurred.
Call it the climax if you will, but the discovery portion of your story is the overcoming of crisis that will change forever the life of the protagonist.
The crisis has been faced and the protagonist has made conscious decisions in dealing with the crisis, and he/she will be forever changed by the outcome….and….if you are a really good writer, the outcome will be inevitable and unexpected. Readers want to guess the outcome and readers want a surprise. If you have done your job, the reader will be left gasping.
How has your protagonist changed because of the conflict? In other words, what internal and/or external transformation happened to your main character? Remember, he cannot return to life as the way it was before the crisis; he must be changed forever because of it.
In my novel “The 12/59 Shuttle From Yesterday To Today,” the main character begins as a womanizing drunkard heading on a one-way path to nowhere, but by the book’s end he has undergone a complete psychic change for the better. So it must be with your protagonist.
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Time to Gather Your Ingredients
If you are ready then get started with your baking exercise. There are a great many pie-lovers out there cleverly disguised as the reading public, and they are starving for some quality story-telling.
If you use these five basic essentials you are sure to please the most discerning of literary gourmets.
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”