How to structure a good story.

how to structure a good story.

As a writer, your desire is to capture your reader’s attention and also make them crave to read more of your story. To craft a good story, you need to be willing to revise your work because every sentence matters. To start your story, you may want to start by creating eye-catching and memorable scences and characters.

           There are four steps which would aid you in writing a good story.

STEP ONE: DEVELOPING YOUR CHARACTER AND PLOT

The first step to structuring a good story is by developing your characters and plot. Take some time to brainstorm on the characters and plot you’ll empoly in your story putting in mind that they mustn’t be boring. Brainstorming would help a lot as it could birth characters and plot that would make the story an interesting one. Write down your thoughts or make a mind map to help generate ideas. You can also make use of inspirations like, life experiences, a story you’ve heard, a family story, a dream, photographs or even arts.

           Now that you’re done brainstorming, you can now develop your characters by making a character sheet. Since characters are the essential elements of your story your readers should be able to relate to your characters and your characters should relay the message of your story. Make profiles for your characters by writing their names, personal details, descriptions, traits, habits, desires and interesting quirks. It is good to do this for the protagonist first then make character sheets for the other main characters like the antagonist. Then you figure out what your characters want, and then base your plot on what they are getting or what they are being deprived of.

(Tip:- you can create your own character sheet or find templates online)

           Next, you choose a setting, when and where your story takes place. Note that your setting should influence your story in some ways and your setting should add to your plot.

Tip:- when choosing a setting be careful about choosing a time or period and place that is unfamiliar to you.

           Next, create an outline for your plot. This will help you to know what to write next. It also helps in filling any pot hole in your story. Use the ideas gotten from your brainstorming exercise and character sheet to plot your story.

           To conclude your process of developing your character and plot, you would choose a first person point of view (PVO). PVO can change the entire perspective of the story so it is advisable to choose wisely. Use the first PVO to get really close to the story, then use a third person limited PVO if you want to focus on the story. You can also pick a third person omniscient if you want to share everything that happens in the story.

Tips:- 1st person PVO is a single character that tell the story from their perspective.

3rd person limited is a narrator that recounts events of the story but limits the perspective to one character.

3rd person omniscient is an all seeing narrator that tells everything that happens in the story including thoughts and actions of each characters.

STEP TWO: DRAFTING YOUR STORY

The first thing to do in drafting your story is by introducing your character and scene in the beginning of your story. You can do this within two or three paragraphs, immersing your reader in the setting. Then give a basic description of the place and incorporate details to show the era. It is good to give enough information for your reader to paint a picture in their mind.

           In addition, you can introduce a conflict in the first few paragraphs. This would serve as an inciting action that would trigger your readers to read more. Think about what your character desires and what is hindering them from having it. You can then create a scene that shows them encountering their problem.

       The middle of your story can contain a rising action displaying your characters working on their problem. You can also incorporate two to three challenges they are facing so that your story can be more interesting. This puts your readers in suspense before revealing the cause of the problem. After that you can come up with a climax that resolves the problem they face . You can do this by creating an event that forces your characters to fight for what they desire..

The next step involves the use of falling action to lead the reader towards the conclusion of your story. However, you have to keep your falling action brief as your readers might feel disinterested to keep reading after the climax. So you can use your final paragraphs to wrap up the plot and summarize what happened after the resolution of the problem.

          Lastly,  you have to end your story with something your readers can ponder on. You don’t have to worry about making your ending good in your first draft, instead focus on presenting your theme and suggesting what your character’s next action. This would get your reader thinking about your story.

STEP THREE: IMPROVING YOUR STORY.

It is often nice to start your story as close to the end as you can, but it is important to know that your reader doesn’t need to be aware of all the events that led to the conflict in your story, and the problem(s) your character is dealing with. They only want to know a summary of your character’s life, so pick an inciting introduction that gets the reader into the plot quickly. This would ensure your story doesn’t move slowly.

           At this point, it would also be nice to graft in a dialogue that reveals something about your characters. It helps your reader scan through the entire page. It also helps you represent what your characters are thinking in their own words without having to include internal monologue.

Tip:- Make sure every piece of  dialogue takes place during the plot.

          Furthermore, build up tension  by creating tragic events which involves your character by allowing misfortune befall them preventing them from getting their desire. This would create a necessity for a resolution for the realisation of your desire.

           Also try to stimulate the five senses of your reader by including sensual details like the sense of sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste to spark up their imagination. This would make your setting more dynamic by exposing your readers to the sense of hearing,smell and sensation they’ll feel.

To complete this part make use of emotions to help your readers relate to your story. Try to make your readers feel what your characters are feeling. You can do this by connecting what your character is going through to something unusual.

STEP FOUR: REVISING AND FINALIZING YOUR STORY.

To achieve maximum effort, it is advisable to set your story aside for a few days and even take your mind off it before revising it. This helps you to easily notice errors and pot holes in the story. It also would help the story to look unfamiliar to you.

Then you can read the story aloud to yourself and look out for areas that needs to be adjusted. Reading the story aloud helps you to get a different perspective on it. It also helps you to identify passages that do not flow well and sentences that sound chippy. You can also read your story to people and ask for their advice and opinions.

Now when you have done all that it is advisable to do show it to a fellow writer, an instructor, classmate or friend and ask them to give you their honest feedback so you can improve your story. It’s often advisable to get feedback from people older than you and those that are more experienced than you. Also make sure you are giving the story to the right readers.

Tip:- For the feedback to be effective, you have to humbly acknowledge your mistake no matter how bad or unpleasant it may sound.

Finally, you should eliminate any details that doesn’t suit your characters personality or elongates  the plot unnecessarily. This means that you cut out passages that you know are well written but do not align to your plot and characters personality.

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