One of the most rudimentary tools needed for writing a book is a list. Planning ahead and taking notes of what you intend to write is a good start to any project, as it will help you focus on objectives and remind you of what still needs to be done.
The first time I attempted to write a book was in high school, with the assistance of a few friends of mine. We were trying to come up with a story that would be the follow up to the Gremlins 2 movie (I was going through a phase, give me a break! :P ). Though I will admit that project was mostly an excuse for me to illustrate a bunch of weird characters, as I was more into drawing than writing back then. Needles to say, that script never made it far.
My second and more serious attempt at story writing was during my twenties, when I penned the first storyline for a super hero inspired team of my creation. Everything was written by hand and the book had roughly two-hundred-and-fifty pages of content. Four years were spent working on it, but it never amounted to anything because in the end I felt most of the characters had become “clichéd”. I still have the book and may revisit it someday, though it will require a major rewrite.
Despite being two totally different projects, there was one aspect these two endeavours had in common; a (serious) lack of planning. Oh sure, I had the basic idea of point “A” and that I needed to reach point “Z”, maybe I had a few ideas for an “F” and a “K” along the way, but that was the extent of my planning back then. Every other detail was invented on the fly as I trudged my way starting from point “A”. My style of writing back then was inexperienced, chaotic, improvised... and that is putting it nicely.
Luckily I have learned the importance of planning since then, mostly through the work I have done as a Lore writer for Missing Worlds Media. Having acquired a better grasp of what is needed and how to structure it when making a new list. The following items are story elements that I identify before taking on a project.
Point of View: This is angle from which the readers view the various details of the story, such as characters, events and landscapes. The point of view is angle the form which the narrator presents the story. It is important to consider which type of narration you feel comfortable with and will best fit your project.
Genre: What genre(s) will the project be based on? Will it focus on one, or draw from several? It is easy to fit into multiple genres at once, but one must remember to not go overboard. It is better to highlight one genre and to mix it with elements from a few others, than to try covering multiple genres and risk losing your audience's interest.
Theme: Without a theme, a plot is just a list of events. The point of a theme is to add a human element to the story, allowing the reader to feel attached to the events and to actually care of the outcome. A theme can be seen as the morale of the story, or the motivation that drives the characters forward.
Tone: the Tone constitutes the attitude that the author adopts to highlight said theme/subject. In the absence of vocal emphasis, a writer will usually convey Tone through their choice of words, which can come across as serious, humorous, sarcastic, passionate, indifferent, and so on.
Style: Style is the technique used by an author when presenting their thoughts, and depends on their choice of words, sounds, logic and structures. It is reflected in the writer’s words, the tone they use, the way they build a sentence or how they describe a visual reference.
Setting: The setting is the time and place in which your story unfolds. When describing a setting, the writer will include elements such as landscape, population, scenery, buildings or weather in order to give the reader a sense of immersion.
Characters: The term character is used to define the people in a novel, play, or movie. They are the pieces which interact with each other, their relationships and actions are what allow the story to move forward.
Plot: A plot is a series of events that describes the actions taken within your story, in a orderly fashion, with the purpose of solving a conflict. For there to be a story, there has to be a beginning and an end, the plot being what happens between those two points.
Conflict: This is the struggle between two opposing forces. This element affects your characters in a way that motivates them to fix the conflict and return the setting to it’s original state.
Goal: In order to explain this in terms that I was using earlier, the goal would be point “Z”. The goal is what your characters hope to achieve, where your plot ends, where your setting returns to normal once the conflict has been solved.
The items listed above are only short descriptions, which I plan on revisiting in future posts. Their importance is great enough that it is worth exploring them separately and in further detail. It is also worth mentioning that this is the current “writing blueprint” i am using, and I have the impression it will evolve as I keep learning. I will be sure to add whatever new findings I come across to the blog as I learn more.
Hope you have found this informative.
Until next time!