A guide to writing and publishing your first book (Part 2): Writing the Story
Updated: Nov 20, 2022
Part 1 of this series on writing and publishing your book is about why you should write. If you did not read it, or you want a refresher on all the advantages of writing and publishing your book, you can read it up here
Part 2, this post, is going to explain how to easily put together a story.
Let's start with a little story:
Mary had a little lamb with fleece as white as snow.
It followed her to school one day, which was against the rules.
Now, though the teacher was unhappy, everyone else was.
So, the teacher called Mary and told her what she had decided; for just that day, she would allow the lamb to stay!
This made Mary and everyone else very happy - and they all had a great time together at play!
Sounds simple, right?
With a catchy title, some pictures, and some marketing, this could become a book - and a popular one at that. Absolutely!
Writing a book, especially if it is your first, does NOT have to be complicated at all.
With that in mind, we are going to cover the following:
The structure of a simple story
Getting ideas for your story
Putting together the first draft for a simple story
Hooks and bread crumbs
Writing tips and tricks.
Let's begin with structure - and then we can fit in everything else!
The Structure of a simple story:
All interesting stories have some elements that are important and these are:
The Main Character, also called the Protagonist, like Mary in the story above. It can also be several characters, like the Avengers, but as you can imagine, that makes for more complex stories.
The World of the main character. In Mary's world, there are human beings and schools, not aliens and starships. In some other stories, there are hills, mountains, Orcs and Wizards. Sound familiar?
The Conflict the main character has to deal with. This is a problem, obstacle, or difficulty the main character has to overcome. In our story, we see this is the difficulty Mary has to deal with to have her lamb in school; this was against the rules. Some also call this Crisis or Rising Action.
The Climax! This is the "Oh my God!" moment of the story. Well, depending on the story. It is the most dramatic moment in the story, the point where the worst, scariest or most traumatic event is happening in the story and is faced by the main character. In the story of Mary above, if you were reading it aloud, it would be the portion that goes, "So, the teacher called Mary and told her what she had decided; for just that day, she would allow the lamb to stay!". Now, if done well enough, in terms of building up and making the Conflict/Crisis really dramatic, this is the moment the crowd goes wild! The Climax is also the most important part of the story. No Climax, well, no story. Really. It's not much of a story to say, "There was a man (Protagonist) in New Orleans (World), who was always unhappy and wanted to feel happy. (Conflict). The man remained in New Orleans (Resolution). The End". What's wrong? Well, the Climax is missing!
The Resolution, which is how the main character, our Protagonist (fancy word, ay?) continues life after the Climax. It answers the question, "After the Climax, what happened next to the main chara...sorry, Protagonist?". In this story, it is "This made Mary and everyone else very happy - and they all had a great time together at play!"
When you create stories, you simply fuse all these together and the core of a story is created. Let's string all the parts together and create the core of an alien story.
A young Alien from the unknown race of Feeg Ment, characterized with large eyes like a roach called Rai Tas Bloc.
The race of Feeg Ment live on a planet shaped like an Ant Hill where fire shoots periodically from the ground during Fire Spurts, their fiery equivalent of rain. It is a dreaded planet called Wot Dah Hehk.
Rai Tas Bloc, a young alien is kidnapped by Wee Ked Mahn, a criminal Feeg Ment and a terrifying terrorist of terrifying terror! He escapes from Wee Ked Mahn who is in hot pursuit - but at the same time, a dangerous Fire Spurt is about to begin.
Wee Ked Man will almost capture Rai Tas Bloc but will meet his untimely demise when Rai Tas Bloc acts like he is about to be re-captured, at the precipice of a hill, but gives Wee Ked Mahn the slip. Losing his balance, Wee Ked Mahn falls to his death - and is further, well, barbecued by a fire spurt.
Rai Tas Bloc makes his way home to his mother, who was anxious about him all along and is overjoyed to have him back home.
Getting Ideas for your story:
To get ideas for your story, simply:
Think about themes you love, eg Romance, Action, Suspense, Drama
Use events from your life, objects in your surroundings, people you know, and even movies you have seen as sources of inspiration and ideation.
Using the story structure given above, fill in the blanks - keeping it very simple and SHORT!
Create more interesting scenarios by changing some of the elements. Your main character may be a man, woman, animal, alien, insect, or a talking can of beer. Your environment can be a blade of grass, a foreign alien world, or even your city. The conflict can be an objective or goal, a problem to overcome, or a massive decision to make. Every time you change an element in the structure, you create a different story.
Experiment. You don't have to have a perfect story at the beginning. The most important thing is to make sure you have the core of a story that aligns with all the structural components of a good story.
Putting together the draft for a good story
To do this, simply put together all the pieces using the story structure outlined. It is that simple. If I do that with the example above, we have a simple story that reads like this:
There was a young alien from an unknown alien race of the Feeg Ment, a race of beings with large eyes. He was called Rai Tas Bloc. The Feeg Ment race lived on a planet shaped like an Ant Hill where fire shot periodically from the ground during fire spurts, their fiery equivalent of rain. Theirs was a dreaded planet called Wot Dah Hehk.
Now, Rai Tas Bloc, was kidnapped by Wee Ked Mahn, a criminal Feeg Ment and a terrifying terrorist of terrifying terror! He escaped from Wee Ked Mahn who pursued Rai Tas Bloc right at the moment a fiery Fire Spurt was about to begin.
Wee Ked Man almost captured Rai Tas Bloc but met his untimely demise when Rai Tas Bloc acted like he was going to allow himself to get re-captured while standing at the precipice of a hill. But that was not to be; Rai Tas Bloc gave Wee Ked Mahn the slip. Losing his balance and missing Rai Tas Bloc, Wee Ked Mahn fell to his death - and was further barbecued by a fire spurt.
Relieved, Rai Tas Bloc made his way home to his mother, who was anxious about him all along and was overjoyed to have him safely back home.
You might have noticed I made some minimal adjustments, but I have largely copied and pasted from the example - and yes, it is that easy to have a simple story. Do you know what else is amazing?
The more you do it, the simpler it becomes!
So what happens next?
Next, we are going to talk about how to ENRICH your story with a HOOK and BREAD CRUMBS.
See you on the other side! 😉
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