If you’re an aspiring writer then chances are you already have an idea (or several) of what you want to write a story about. You may have a general plan of what kind of story you want it to be, what the main characters are like, the world and time period it’s set in and you may already have a beginning and end for your story ready to go. Or maybe you have an instinctual ability to improvise writing where you can begin a story without any preparation and just fill in the blanks as you go.

Or maybe you don’t. Perhaps you’ve already written a few stories that didn’t turn out as well as you hoped and you’re struggling to step it up a notch. Maybe you’ve lost enthusiasm for your current ideas or you’ve just written stories you were satisfied with but don’t know what you want to write next.

Today’s post is primarily for the latter group. The amount of preparation required differs with each writer but certain basic foundations are usually necessary for everyone before putting pen to paper. I’ll be covering the preparations that I consider necessary whenever I’m beginning a new story and the questions I think you should ask yourself. There’s a lot to consider so I may dive into each of these questions in greater detail at a later date. For now though, we’ll just cover our basics.

What Kind Of Story Am I Writing?

This sounds simple enough I’m sure but the answer isn’t as crystal clear as simply naming a genre or theme. Even if you already have an idea for your story, you need to ask yourself how you want to write it. There’s plenty to consider when debating that.

So let’s say I answered that question with:

“An action story.”

  • What kind of action? Martial arts, sword fighting, guns blazing, magic?
  • What dramatic event will be the focus of the story?
  • Where is it set?
  • Is it a modern day story or is it set in a different time period?
  • Is it fiction or is it based on real events?
  • What dramatic event will be the focus of the story?

Okay so we’ll try to answers these questions:

“A medieval fantasy action set in a fictional world where human knights battle evil monsters.”

  • What makes the monsters evil? Are they intelligent monsters committing evil acts? Are they just wild beasts?
  • Are the knights doing this out of the goodness of their heart or do they get paid?
  • Where do the monsters come from? Are they just common creatures in this world?
  • What kind of monsters are they? Are they based on mythology, other fantasy influences or are they original creations of yours?
  • Is it a single kind of monster or are there many?
  • Who are the knights?
  • Who is the story about?

Are you beginning to see how much needs considered? We haven’t even named this world or decided on a main character yet let alone decided on a beginning or end for this story. Perhaps the next phase will begin to cover that:

“A medieval fantasy about a boy named Blake who joins a circle of holy knights devoted to ridding the world of Esmiral of all the unnatural wild beasts that were created by an evil dark wizard long ago. These creatures prey on the unprotected villages and travelers they come across and feed upon their flesh. Only the magical blades of these knights can slay them.”

Now we’re getting somewhere! For something I’m making up as I go this is turning into something I’d probably read! It doesn’t matter if you’re writing a gritty action drama or a family comedy, it all begins with asking enough questions to provide an informative pitch.

Here’s where we begin to get down the details of what we’re writing about. In my example we’re talking about a fantasy world filled with magic and fictional monsters. I chose this kind of example because a common problem I dealt with when first trying to write this brand of fiction was the exciting prospect of building my own world.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that in one project I worked on, I wrote out over one hundred pages dictating every aspect of the world I could think of. From a summary of a thousand years of historical events prior to my story to the names of irrelevant towns and villages located on the other side of the world from where my story would be based. I wrote out the laws of how magic worked, laws that nobody in my world was actually aware of or ever would be and filled pages with information that would almost certainly never be mentioned in the final story.

On the plus side, that kind of writing is admittedly very stimulating and VERY fun…but it’s not story-writing. If you complete your story you can dive into the historical details and explanations of magical weapons later for fans to read up on but in the meantime, you’re just wasting time that should be spent actually writing.

That’s why my next post will be covering the most important questions you can ask yourselves while you’re brainstorming an idea:

What Happens In Your Story and What Is Relevant To It?

Thanks for reading!

 

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