Building Stories

It seems that writing a story, whether or not the beginning or ending is there, has a problem: writing the story. The journalist and screenwright, Gene Fowler said, "Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your  forehead."

That is an accurate description, and definitely one that many young writers feel. How do you go from point A to point B? From the beginning to the ending? A story starter is a good initial starting point and helps to make it past that initial wall of a blank page, but where do you go from there? One of the reasons why I try to solidify my ending quickly is that it gives me a target . . . and a starting place.
How does a story ender help other genres besides mystery? I'm currently working on the sequel to my first book, due out at Christmas, but I reached a point where I'm stuck, but I do have the last chapter written. Knowing what happens with my characters can help me plot backwards. What events led to this situation? Does this scene require that someone betrays someone? What do I still have to explain to reach this point? Why are the charcters in a boat in the middle of the Tasman Sea when they were on an island in the Solomon Islands?
Can you create a story ender from the story starter? Sure.
  1. Decide the genre: mystery, historical, contemporary, science-fiction, fantasy, romance. Sometimes the genre will be dictated by the story starter, though. Once the genre is decided, it helps clarify some of the story aspects. An historical novel will not have a cell-phone unless it is a time travel story in which case it becomes science fiction.
  2. Decide the mood of the ending: is it a happy ending, a sad ending, an angry ending or something else. This gives a general idea what will be in the story.
  3. Decide the goal of the characters. What is it that the main character wants? Does the main character gain what he wants or does he lose it? This plays a little bit into the mood of the ending, but not necessarily. Not everything that someone gains is actually a happy ending.

These three ideas give a general idea where a story can go, and by limiting the ending the story has a target. Are there other ways that you know how to move from point A to point B?


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