Technical writers start with a goal, outline the process, and research specifics.
It’s tempting to think writing stories would work the same way (in teleocentric terms): start at the beginning and (while your hero encounters issues and fails, then finally succeeds) focus on the end game – aÂ triumphant climax and a conclusion.
But when you’re just starting with an idea and a character or two, it’s more common to imagine isolated scenarios – like dreams.
- Is your hero open-minded? Why, sure! When she met someoneÂ with an opposing opinion… andÂ scene.
- Is your hero broken? Oh, yes.Â Why, when he… and scene.
- Is your hero strong? Not really.Â Why, when she… and scene.
After these daydreams, the writerÂ has a related, but disparate group of scenes. Not a story.
If this resembles the way you write, consider this strategy.
You can anchor scenes to a plot (create an outline) and let that inform what to focus on next, or you canÂ let the most compelling scenesÂ (the ones with the most conflict) drag you toÂ a climax. Pen an ending, and call it a story.
I’ve used both techniques.
- The outline helped me find where the scene fit into the story and identify new scenes to write.
- The most compelling scenes helped direct me to a climax I would never have imagined from the beginning. The story developed around the scene with the addition of anÂ introduction and conclusion… but it was flat.Â Then I penned a climax so pivotal, I had to scramble back and recreate everything.
WithÂ a foundation and solid characters,Â it was much easier to progress and eventually finish.