Tell Me Your Story
Tell me your story. How do you write it? Where do you start? This post will answer those questions and perhaps a few more that you may have regarding the many intricacies of creative writing and how to tell your story well so that it will sell.
When I mentor other writers, the first thing I ask them is, “What do you like to read?” Why is this important? If you read books in a particular genre, such as mysteries, thrillers, or romances, you become inherently familiar with how the stories progress; what works, what doesn’t work. Each genre has its own set of guidelines. The more you stray from those guidelines, the harder it will be to tell me your story and sell it to others. People like familiarity.
What if you don’t know what genre your story falls into? If you don’t know what type of story you want to tell, it is not ready to be written. It’s like planning a trip with no destination. Yes, you can make things up as you go, but in the end, your story will be disjointed and difficult to follow.
The next step is to develop your story idea, the main thread of your story. For example, for my novel, Fealty, the main story idea was this:
“A woman is committed to a man she doesn’t want, loves a man she cannot have, and must risk everything to save her clan from certain destruction.”
So, if I run into an editor, and she says, “Tell me your story,” this is the phrase I say. If it grabs her attention, she will ask me more about it.
As humans, we are drawn to crisis, especially when it involves other people. Your story idea should involve a sense of urgency. If you were to tell this story idea to an editor or an agent, would it grab their attention?
Now that you have an idea of what your story is about, it’s time to develop it. I find it best to develop my characters before I plot my story. Once you have your characters developed and you know their life intimately, you will be able to tell me your story as if it has already happened.
Start with the people you know. I highly recommend changing their names, however, to protect their identity. I have been blessed with having to have met many memorable characters on which I base my stories. For example, I have a young friend who is constantly contemplating killing herself. She describes her life as a personal hell from which she cannot escape. The only thing that keeps her going is a son that her late boyfriend had blessed her with shortly before he passed away. Her story was so remarkable, I had to make her a character in my book, Aeon Pneuma.
Once you have your characters completely developed, you are ready to begin plotting your story. This is where your genre becomes important. Each genre follows a pattern depending upon how many words it will be.
If all of this sounds a bit overwhelming, I have some light to shed at the end of your tunnel. I use a program that I highly recommend. It is called The Marshall Plan, developed by a highly renown publishing agent and New York Times best selling author, Evan Marshall. If you purchase his program, it comes with his books that offer more in-depth explanations for the ideas I have presented. It took me a good month to fully comprehend his concepts for writing a novel, but once I did, I was able to produce my first novel in about three months. His program saved me several months of frustration and helped me realize my potential in a positive, uplifting way. I now have six books published and will be releasing book seven this year as well as a non-fiction book entitled, Finding Peace Among Chaos. Now, I’m asking you to tell me your story.