Introduction: How to Write a Story: Basics
Have you ever wanted to try to write a story of your own, but never knew how? Want to know if you are capable of writing a good story? This instructable is 10 basic steps on how to create a piece of writing all your own! These steps should get you started and on your way to writing an awesome story!
Every writer is different, so remember that if one of these steps doesn't work for you, it doesn't mean you are not capable of writing! It just means you need to find out what works best for you.
Now, get ready to write!
Step 1: Materials!
Making sure you have all the materials to write a good story are very important, which is why it’s the first step! Every writer has a different process, but the best materials for brainstorming/writing a story are:
· Any notebook or journal
- Grid Dot Journals seem to work the best for the creative process. Getting your ideas out on paper is one of the most common ways writers brainstorm. Using a journal strictly for all your writing ideas can come in handy, as you might be struck with inspiration from a past idea you never developed on.
· Assorted Colored Pens
- Any kind of colored pens will work for the brainstorming process. Having as many colors as possible will be the best way to separate your ideas. The colored pens come in handy when outlining and drawing character charts.
· Optional: A laptop or computer
- Having a laptop or computer is best for starting the piece you are writing. It is also good to have a computer that has access to the internet in order to do proper research for whatever story you are working on. All stories require research, whether writing a fantasy or non-fiction story!
There are many ways to start the creative process, and the best way to figure out what works best for you is to try as many ways possible! Some writers like to use pen and paper, while others like to autosave their ideas on a computer.
If you are unsure about which one you prefer, start with one and see where it takes you. Most often, writers prefer to do the brainstorming and outlining process on paper, and then they like to start their writing on a laptop or computer. Again, there is no right or wrong way!
Step 2: Pick a Genre and a Storyline
Murder, Ghosts, Love, Tragedy? There are many different genres and story ideas that you could write about, but the best one to write is the one that interests you the most. Write down some genres with a few ideas in each one that interests you.
While in the next step you will be brainstorming, it is also good to get some of your more solid ideas in ink, so you can put smaller, more broken ideas on the page. Some of the genres that you could write for your short story are:
· Science Fiction
If one of these genres does not interest you, there are others that you could write. Of course, you could always mix two or three of the genres to write the story you desire.
Step 3: Brainstorm!
This step is perhaps the easiest step to do. There are many different things you can and most likely will brainstorm. Brainstorming looks different for each writer: A bulleted list, paragraphs, broken sentences, words, the list goes on and on!
Using a blank page of a journal, notebook, or word document is the best way to start the process. Leave yourself uninterrupted for at least 5-10 minutes, and just write down all the ideas that you have for the story/genre you picked. Most of the time, the genre and idea you started with will change, and that’s okay!
You might change your story idea 10 times before you find the one you love. Brainstorming is there to help you see what you are actually thinking and feeling. Brainstorming is a step in the process to help you figure out where you want to go, or even just throw ideas on the page. Some things you might want to brainstorm include:
· Type of story (Short Story, Flash Fiction, Novel, etc)
· Narration (in 1st or 3rd Person)
So just sit back, crack open a blank page, and let yourself go! This step can be the most draining, so remember to take breaks when needed and don’t expect your story to be written overnight!
Step 4: Narrow Down Ideas and Pick Favorites!
After you have brainstormed for a good amount of time, you may be looking at a giant list. Before you can start writing, you need to narrow down your favorite ideas. From the narrowed down list, make sure that you at least have:
· Type of story
· 2-3 Characters
· Beginning idea
You can also use some of the ideas from step 2 if those interest you more! Once you have the list, write them down in different colors, so you can differentiate between the ideas. Once you are looking at your possible story in this list, you are ready for the next step. The more confident in your ideas, the better your story will be.
Step 5: Characters!
Every story needs to have characters! It’s up to you on how many you want to have, but make sure you have at least 2.
Using characters that you have already brainstormed (from steps 3 and 4) draw a character wheel/outline for them! The wheel/outline can include their background, ages, gender, personality traits, physical traits, whether they are a main character (protagonist) or not. This outline is for you, so you can see each character and change them if you need to.
Make sure to draw EACH character an outline. You will find it easier to write your characters into the story if you already know who they are and how they will fit into your story.
Step 6: Outline
At this point in the process, you most likely have an idea of how/where you want the story to go. Using the ideas from step 4 and 5, draw an outline for your story. It does not matter how you decide to outline your story. Whichever way works best for you, write or draw a basic outline for your story.
This is an outline, so it will change once you start writing. The purpose of this step is to give you an idea of how you want your story to go. Maybe you leave a part of the outline blank for now because you don’t know what you want, and that’s okay! If you change some things along the way, that is perfectly okay!
This outline will help guide you once you start writing, and it will also help you avoid writer's block.
Step 7: Research
Now that you have done your outline, you may think you are ready to write. You are almost there, but before you start you need to do your research!
If you are having your story be set in a certain place, you will need to research life in those places to bring the life and culture in the story. The purpose of this step is to make sure you have all the facts straight. There is no right or wrong way to do this step, just make sure you get as much research as you need and take notes! You don’t need to use all of the information you find, but having lots is better than having nothing.
If you are unsure what to research, start with researching the setting you are using in your story. Write down the climate, life, shops, tourist life, monuments, anything important or relevant.
Another helpful thing to research is other stories in your genre you are writing. If you have novels or short stories in the same genre you are writing it would be helpful to read parts, or all, of the story to get an idea of how the genre was executed.
Remember, your writing is your writing, so don’t try to write like Tolkien or Sparks. Write something like you! Using other famous successful authors as research or a template is a good start!
Step 8: Begin
Steps 1-7 have gotten you to this point, and now it’s up to you to write! Using the content created during this process, begin to write your story! You could start from the beginning, or you could start with the ending and work backwards from there.
This step is what gets you started on your piece. Some pieces of writing take months, even years, to complete. If something isn't flowing or doesn't seem right, take a step away from your writing. Trying to finish a piece of writing in a day, or even a week, is not ideal.
Figuring out what works best for you is the real work here, and just remember that every writer is different. Once you start writing your story, ideas will start to flow out of you. Make sure to write those down on a separate paper so you can come back to them!
Step 9: Challenges
Once you have begun the process, you may have already run into a few roadblocks. The best thing to do when you have a challenge, is to stop and come back to it later. Writer's block happens to the best of us, and can be the most frustrating. When the block occurs, don’t try and fight it. Instead of trying to work around it, go outside, eat, take a hot shower, just step away!
Sometimes using those breaks of time are where really good ideas arise, so listen to your brain and take breaks! Adapting to these challenges are when the best work happens!
Another challenge you might run into, is feeling like the writing isn't going anywhere. This is common - but keep writing! First, second, and tenth drafts are where you are able to play with your story and finish something really great. Keep pushing through the challenges, and let yourself create a piece of literature!
Step 10: Create Your Own!
The final step to this process is perhaps the most important: Create your own piece of literature that you are proud of! While we may admire writers like Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, or John Green, we have to remember that we aren’t them. You have to create a piece of writing that is 100% yours. Most writers put something that is authentically theirs in their writing, so don’t be afraid to put a little of yourself in your story!
As humans, we are bound to use some of our own life experiences in our writing. Sometimes, we write characters based on people in our lives, or even based on ourselves. The more relatable and real a character is to you, the more relatable it will be to your readers.
While these 10 basic steps were for everyone, it's ok if you didn't like something or it didn't work for you. Writing is a creative process and you have to learn what is best for you. Let your creativity fill the pages and allow yourself to make mistakes. There may be times when you feel like your writing isn’t good enough, but that’s when you need to keep writing! Never give up on something you love, you never know how well it may turn out for you!
You have all the tools you could need, so let your creativity fly and have fun doing it!