Join Lisa Cron for an in-depth discussion in this video Story check (What is a story?), part of Writing Fundamentals: The Craft of Story.
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Now that we've established the definition of a story, here are some a quick questions you can ask yourself when you begin to write or rewrite your own story. These questions will help you make sure your story stays on track. First, what happens? What will actually happen in the external story? What events have to occur in order to force your protagonist to confront and overcome the thing that's holding her back? Remember, it's something she's probably spent her whole life avoiding, so the plot must really put the screws to urging her ever forward.
Second, who does the plot affect? It's a good idea to double check that you actually have a clear protagonist. Remember, that's the person in pursuit of a difficult goal. You'd be shocked, I mean really shocked, at how often writers overlook this. Third, what is your protagonist's goal? All stories revolve around an immediate and unavoidable problem that the protagonist has no choice but to deal with now. So the question is what problem will your protagonist have to face and solve as the story unfolds? And finally, how does your protagonist change? What will she realize at the end of the day that changes how she saw things when the story started? Sometimes this realization allows her to reach her goal, and sometimes it's that moment when she realizes that her goal wasn't what she really wanted after all.
The more you know about what she'll need to learn, the easier it is to make sure that your plot will compel her to learn it. So let's practice writing a strong premise. In your exercise files you'll find the rough draft of the story concept, take a minute and make that weak example sing.
- What is a story?
- Hooking your reader
- Feeling what the protagonist feels
- Being specific
- Creating suspense and conflict
- Writing flashbacks and subplots