Thursday, May 14, 2015

How to Write a Good Story

This article isn't meant to be the only source for writing well. For crying out loud, it only reflects my personal style and gives a basic formula for newbie authors to use when crafting a story of their own.

The first thing we should probably discuss is the fabled Rule of Three, a technique that helps to keep everything tidy. Three of everything makes the story feel complete and not overcooked.

         (Movies do this with trilogies)

         (Movies like Batman & Bourne)

                     (Star Wars too)

Trilogies are one of the best ways to create a clear cut representation of the Rule of Three. They easily showcase a first, second and third act in the story of the protagonist - usually having an origin, a fall and finally a redemption. But the rule goes deeper than that.

We see a trope in Sci Fi stories where a character will rattle off three examples of events or wars or pieces of technology - two real world examples and a made up one.

Ex. "It's just like a hippo or an elephant or a shinriuga muto."

It provides a sense of completeness. It creates a full arc.

Within the story as a whole, you'll want to start with the beginning of the tale, move into a darker second act and then gradually move into the third act, providing redemption or resolution.

Next, after you've got a basic story outline, you'll want to create characters. You may want to create a hero/mentor/villain style story. This will fall neatly within the Rule of Three and give you a nice starting point. It'll also help you to figure out what the conflict and motivations are for the characters.

Your hero should begin the story in a very different place emotionally than at the end. In fact, your protagonist should have three versions - the first, naive, innocent or damaged version at the start - the second one that is shrouded in conflict - and finally, the newly resolved, changed version. A complete arc.

The mentor (assuming your story follows my prescribed Hero, Mentor, Villain formula) should be a more weathered, experienced character than your hero. They should be in their third act comparatively to the hero. Their story ought to be wrapping up as the hero's story is ramping up.

The villain ought to be the polar opposite of the mentor. Same path, but different directions. This will help to provide a good contrast to the hero. And as the hero moves toward the third act, they may be tempted down the road to the villain's philosophical worldview. Make the villain at least somewhat relatable so that the hero's temptation is believable. The audience should relate to the hero and to what the hero relates to. 

Next, you need to create goals, conflict and resolution. We'll talk about that in the next post about writing.

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