Craft,  Creativity

What Do I Do When My Story Isn’t Going Anywhere?

Do you have a new story idea and don’t know what to do with it?

It is very possible to want to write a story, have a story idea, and plan on knocking out 50,000 words in 30 days without really knowing the important necessities of a story. Sure, in Western Culture we’ve heard countless stories, we have a general idea of beginning, middle and end.  We know that you need characters and setting and some sort of plot despite the title of this book. But to write a story you really need to get a handle on what’s needed in a GOOD ONE before you try crafting one.

Or maybe you have tried crafting one and it seems like a hot mess. Maybe you get about 10,000 words in and you have no idea where you’re going. Maybe you found yourself trapped in a giant tangle of backstory that, while fascinating, doesn’t seem to be moving your characters toward any big objective.

Never fear.

Today’s List is all about resources for understanding story. 

Check them out. Analyze what you’re doing wrong. Go back and rewrite that hot mess and make it something beautiful!

1. This is a very clear, well-articulated list of 25 Things About Creating Stories from Justin McLachlan.

2. This is classic story-telling geeky stuff! Aristotle’s Incline and ways to look at six key events in a story. Janalyn Voight’s whole blog is awesome!

3. This is a FREE pdf that you can download and print that illustrates the classic storytelling arc. Sometimes seeing something simply drawn out is very helpful.

4. Here’s a slideshow that demonstrates Freytag’s Pyramid, demonstrating how stories are structured. If you don’t know, Gustav Freytag was a German playwright and novelist who had to analyze stories to death. Leave it to the Germans to analyze this to death.

10 Minute Novelists is holding a Writers Conference “Spark Your Passion, Ignite Your Story” with Tex Thompson, Angela Ackerman, Eric Smith, and Steven James in the greater Cincinnati, OH area!

5. Then a dude named Blake Snyder came up with his more detailed analysis of what stories should accomplish and he called it Save The Cat! Blake Snyder was an American screenwriter, which totally explains his much catchier name for his title. You can read his Save The Cat books here. 

6. My personal favorite book on story is by Robert McKee.

(Click the image to take you straight to!)  Yes, technically it’s on screenwriting but I think novelists could benefit from reading it!

7. My friend, K.M. who writes this awesome blog, also wrote a book about story structure and you should click the image below and check it out!

8. Then the good folks at Writer’s Digest have this little article that describes The Four Story Structure That Dominate Novels. I found this very interesting and hadn’t thought of this before. (Note to self: memorize this for Nanowrimo!)

9. Need more? This piece from Daily Writing Tips quotes Nigel Watt’s Book Write A Novel & Get It Published  and explains the critical EIGHT POINTS needed in every story. (Hey! I have that book! You can have it too if you click the image!)

10. And check out 10 Minute Novelist’s Pinterest board on structure, it is FULL of great resources!

Katharine Grubb is an author, poet, homeschooling mother, camping enthusiast, bread-baker, and believer in working in small increments of time. She leads 10 Minute Novelists, an international Facebook group of time-crunched writers. She lives with her family in Massachusetts.

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