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As long as you have these three things in place, your story is bound to be engaging and entertaining. Your premise is the foundation of your plot. The collection of situations or presuppositions that make up your story world. Your premise consists of seemingly unconnected ideas that have been meshed together to make something truly unique.

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The Hunger Games: What if, sometime in the future, there is a society which demands children must fight to the death once a year? Immediately, the premise opens up a hundred other questions that your story may or may not answer. See how that works? You take a few different ideas and combine them. See how they might fit together. These are cool ideas on their own.

Everything You Need to Know About Planning Your Novel • Writer's Edit

But when you put them together, they become something really fascinating. With a premise like this, is it any wonder why The Matrix was so successful?

GoneGod World: What if all the gods are gone, and when they leave they force all their denizens to go to earth? In this story, every sort of magical creature you can think of—dragons, faeries, etc. As you can imagine, this opens up all kinds of possibilities for interesting storylines and conflicts. Take a look at your favorite stories and identify their premise. Bonus : Among the premises that you have identified, see if you can alter them slightly to turn them into something completely unique. They happen to characters—to people. To human beings.


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And sometimes, to elves and aliens. At the heart of every story is a hero who strives to meet an important goal. And the more your audience can understand and identify with that hero, the more likely they are to become engrossed by your story. And we break that journey up into inner and outer journeys. Her inner journey is to mature as an individual, to let other people in, and to learn to accept help from others. Make sense? Now go figure out who your hero is, give them a few key traits, and most importantly decide on their inner and outer journey.

Loosely defined, your A-story is the main storyline in your novel. Your book can have multiple storylines—maybe you have a romance subplot, for example—but your A-story is the main story.

Writing Great Fiction: Storytelling Tips and Techniques

The big problem that gets resolved at the end. Here are some common A-stories for different genres to think about when you start writing a book:. This is the storyline that you need to focus on, to keep coming back to. Spend a few minutes contemplating how the premise and the A-story work together. Bonus : Could you alter one of the premises to fit with your own unique A-story?

If so, you very well may have the a kickass story on your hands! Identify two or three unique A-stories that fit could each premise. And also relish is how your A-story is better than the original. Bonus: Could you alter one of the premises to fit with your own unique A-story? Ego is a critical part of a writer's toolbox. Without ego, you'd succumb to the fear that the eighty-to-one-hundred thousand words you're preparing to dump on the world may not measurably improve it. This will only seem ridiculous if you have a tremendous ego, the kind that can look upon a work-in-progress crammed with of plot holes, opaque character motivations, and spelling errors that have dogged you since third grade, and think: Mmm What works for me is telling myself that all writers' first drafts are bad.

I can't tell for sure because other writers don't show me their first drafts— probably because they're so bad. You see? So what I hawk out onto the screen in draft one is pretty good, relatively speaking. Remember the last time you read a novel that was so awful, just getting to the end was tortuous? Someone managed to write that. They typed out every single word. And they did it as a first draft, when it would have been worse.

Thanks to ego. There are plenty of ways to do this. But all you need to know is that no technique works for everyone, and what's best for you is whatever gets you regularly putting down words and feeling good about them. This step takes three months if you are Stephen King, months if you are me, and a year or two if you have a real job.

Add one to ten years if you have small children. You are stuck and unmotivated. Delete that last bit. I can't emphasize this enough. Delete it. I know you don't want to. I know, logically, it seems like a good idea.

Creative writing lessons: Creative Writing tips, advice and lessons from bestseller Stephen King

It's killing you. I'm unsure whether not doing something can be a step. But that's not important. What's important is avoiding research. I'm serious. Research is useful in two phases: the idea phase and the rewriting phase. In between, research is a stupid boring voice that says, It doesn't work like that. You know what? I'm writing this story, I'll tell you how it goddamn works.

I'll make it plausible in rewrites. Don't tell anyone this, though, because when they ask, "Did you do a lot of research? In the middle of the first draft, research is a distraction from what's important, which is story-telling. I call this Step 4 also since it occurs in parallel. Keep reading books. Yes, their influences will seep into your writing. But what are you going to do, never read again? It's fine to leave dangling threads and unrealized characters in a first draft, because you're creating something from nothing. Literally anything you add is better than what you had.

Character Worksheets

Plus, since you're full of ego Step 3 , everything you wrote is pretty damn good, you feel. This is only way to finish a first draft. But now it's time to read over your story like you just happened across it in your printer's out-tray. Read it like you're a little impatient. Scrawl on it in pen. React to it like a reader. Then rewrite.


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I won't tell you how long this step lasts, or how many times it repeats, because it's different for everyone, and the answer is always terrifying. This means writing thirty query letters to literary agents and responding to the one who replies asking to see some chapters. The other option is self-publishing, which is also viable if you have plenty of time and enthusiasm for self-promotion. Either way, though, the best marketing is write a good book.