The Rise of a Story Without the Fall

Strategic Planning:

1.  A story to tell.  (Can often be found in the shower or in the park.)

2.  Storyboard or outline that goes all the way to the end.  (Storyboards are more fun.)

3.  The right characters for the right part.  (interview, interview)

4.  Protagonist.  (low fat, sugar free, slightly tainted and has one wart.)

5.  Antagonist.  (heavy explanation for the heavy)

6.  Number of characters.  (Eliminate deadheads or transfuse multiples into singles)

7.  Decide on POV.

8.  Planning and balance for any change of POV.  (space/***/space)

9.  Structure based on Milieu, Idea, Character or Event. (Decide NOW)

10.  Where and when to sew in backstory.  (Baste stitch & use thin threads)

11.  Background.  (subtle, but vital.  First clue placed in the beginning.)

12.  Research.

13.  5 W’s.

14.  Dialogue minimum.  Never at the beginning.  DO NOT cheat too much.

15. Sequence:  Action/Reaction/Internalization.

Author’s Note:  Confused by this post?  Can’t make head nor tails of it?  I’m not surprised.  This entry represents an actual cheat sheet pinned to my office wall.  I consider it to be the most important one, and it’s the only one that has never, never been covered up by something else.  I have blogged about some of these items, but not all.   It has always been my dream to organize my notes in some way, but like all scribbles they seldom make sense to anybody else.  I can’t file them in a drawer, because with me out-of-sight is out-of-mind.  Visitors to my humble abode are often stunned by my crazy wallpaper.  If I could post them to my blog, I might not look so eccentric to company.  Whahah!  Some days I care; some days I don’t.  On the other hand if I do post them to my blog, as is, then you will think I’ve dropped my cookies.


15 thoughts on “The Rise of a Story Without the Fall

  1. Like it. I might try doing something similar. I’ve been working backstory into the sequel to Hidden Boundaries, so the idea of baste, stitch, use thin threads really appeals to me. Not so much keeping dialogue to a minimum, because my stories are characterization-heavy with talking heads. I always have to remember to give them bodies and move them around a bit.

  2. *Love* it!!!

    Having Research so far down may strike some folks as “wrong” but I had a Professor of Literature attend one of my discussions in Second Life and she ranked it right about where you did 🙂

    • All 14 are prep-work–before writing, and no use doing research if the story stinks. Whahah! Believe me, I’ve trashed a lot of ideas. Most go in the stupid pile.

  3. Interesting! I agree on number one, and like to add that they can also be found on the commute to work. 🙂
    We have very different ways of writing, by the way. I tend do start with a character and work my way from there. An outline is something I usually do when I have already done 10-15 pages of writing. Oh, and I love dialogue. Lots of it. 🙂

    • Well, okay. I got to ask: You love writing dialogue or you love reading dialogue? 🙂 Maybe, you’re more of a screen writer. Fade-in, scene 1. Fade-out, scene 2.

      • I love both. I actually had to go to my bookshelf and look at some of my favorite books, and all had lots of dialogue. 🙂
        I wouldn’t say I’m anything like a screen writer either, but I do love tv-series…

  4. Since you went to that much trouble, DrawReadWrite. There are no hard and fast rules about dialogue. In Gotham Writer’s Workshop Writing Fiction, Allison Amend writes: Some stories are dialogue heave, others dialogue light… Most stories find a balance between dialogue and narration.

    Now, that said. My own personal preference, which is naturally what I favor in my ‘cheat sheets,’ is less dialogue and never at the beginning. Many times I’ll pick up a book and flip the pages. If I see too much dialogue, IMHO, I’ll lay the book back down.

    I prefer an openning with a wide angle shot. For some reason, perhaps my anti social nature, I do not like to stumble into a conversation between two people that I do not know.

    • Wasn’t any trouble – my bookshelf is right by my desk. 🙂 What you said made me think about what is special about the books I like, and made me curious if I was making a mistake, by writing something that I wouldn’t read by having so much dialogue. It was good, realizing I like dialogue both in my own writing and in what I read.

      It’s also interesting reading about your views, just because they are that different from my own. It’s good to have different angles on things. 🙂

  5. That’s great, an eye popping moment. As an artist, listen to what others have to say. Read all the guide books. Know the rules. Consider them, and then make your own decision how to proceed, even if you have to buck the entire system. After all, you might come up with the greatest story since…it rained for 40 days and 40 nights.
    Art is not found in a rule book.

    It’s the same thing with your drawing. Do you follow all the rules that you know about? Heck No. You’re not a computer who spits out an exact image; you’re an artist and in the imperfections we often find beauty. In the breaking of ‘rules’ we find something brand new. END OF RANT.

    • Exactly. That’s what I tell my students all the time: once you know the rules, feel free to break them. I love it when I point out something that they haven’t done by the rules and the go from “oh, sorry, I’ll change that,” to “yes, I know, I did it because…” 🙂

    • Thanks Lynn. Everyone can probably tell that I real big on planning. I’ve written too many stories that just fizzle out. Oh, well, the price we pay to learn our lessons.

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