Monday, July 30, 2007

How to Build a Compelling Story

From one of the 40 blogs I read on a daily basis, Angela Booth's Writing Blog...

I'm a fan of "one minute" fiction. These are short stories of around a thousand words or less.
These short fiction pieces make a great change of pace for your journal. If you're new to fiction, here's a fast way to structure a story. This works for short stories of course, but you can also use it in an extended form (keep adding complications) for a novel.

Here’s the Quick Story Structure:

• Introduction

• Complication

• Consequence

• Relevance

The Introduction is the setup, the "engine" that sets the story in motion. A static situation changes, as when a man wins the lottery, or when a wife discovers that her husband is having an affair, or when someone is fired, or whatever.

The Complication makes a bad situation worse. If the man wins the lottery, he can’t find the winning ticket. Cluster or free write 20 complications. Force yourself to think of 20, and don’t stop until you've reached that number.

The Consequence is what happens as a result of the conflict that's created from the Introduction and the Complication.

Your story must have Relevance. It's the theme, whether it's love conquers all, do as you would be done by, don't take anything for granted, etc. You should know what your story's theme is, but you don’t need to state it explicitly.

A prompt for your one minute fiction

I give my writing students short prompts to kick start their one minute fiction. Here's a prompt students enjoy:

You're on a crowded commuter flight. You're on your way to give a presentation to tender for a contract. If your company doesn’t get the contract, it will be forced into bankruptcy. The person next to you is a talker. You need to work. You...

Write around 500 words, telling us what happens next.

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