I was feeling extremely fortunate the day I joined my first writing course. The instructor was a famous author. And I had plenty of questions pleading to be answered.
My biggest challenge was the core story. I would read a ton of stories and novels and wonder about so many things, like:
Unfortunately, those were not the kind of questions this author was prepared to answer. He would tell a bit on how stories work, and send us off with weekly assignments.
Every week, he took our writing apart, told us what was wrong, but not how to fix the wrongs. By the time the course ended, I had even more questions than I had before. I wasn't sure if it was even possible to teach and learn creative writing.
Some time later, I took another storytelling course by a different instructor. Yet again, I found it ambiguous and disorganized. As if creating a story was just a matter of guesswork, hit or miss, without any tangible guidelines.
"Does everyone do it like this?," I asked one day. "How else?," the teacher said. "It's an art. Not science. You keep working on it till you start getting a feel for it."
I couldn't take it anymore. What was this "feel" that I had to wait for? And for how long? Will this feel come all at once, or little by little?
If there is no better way, may be what people say was right. Writers are born. You either have it in you, or you don't. And may be I don't.
But eventually, I discovered the most incredible fact. I devoured as many books and courses as possible. Only a few were really great, but enough for me to realize that what people say is a lie.
I knew I could learn because I was learning. Finally, I had what I have been looking for such a long time.
I learned about principles of plotting, character development, settings and more, laid out in a clear, concrete manner.
The day it all came together in my head, I was thrilled, but also furious that it took so long to figure it out.
As a result, I am so excited that I want to share with you what I have learned. I want to tell aspiring writers that could learn the practical nuts and bolts, instead of getting overwhelmed by fancy theory.
But every writer fears this - putting sweat and tears into hundreds of pages, and then realizing that the story has no sense or urgency.
If you have had any kind of exposure to the writing community - conferences, forums, coaches, books, courses and more - the prevailing point of view is that there are only two things you can do to avoid this problem.
But these methods rarely work. You need an alternative approach.
Just like in other creative fields like painting or design, crafting a story can be taught systematically, with basic principles to guide you.
Most writing advice focuses only on writing well, not on creating a riveting story. Yet place where most writers go wrong has nothing to do with how well they write, and everything to do with their ability to form and tell a story.
They fail because they strive only for beautiful metaphors, physical descriptions of characters and clever dialogues. And they lose sight of the things that really make the reader turn page after page to discover what happens next.
Make no mistake, it's not beautiful prose, but the story that hooks a reader, viewer or listener. That's why the most important thing a writer can learn is what a story really is and how to craft one.
That's what this blog is about. I have attempted to provide the most specific, sensible and direct coaching that I wish I had access to when starting out, so that you'd be able to write a good story worthy of getting published.
Together we'll explore what the brain's hardwired expectations are for every story we hear. I'll walk you though the fundamentals of a great story, accompanied by before and after examples.
If you're working on a story, each post ends with an exercise you can do, along with a checklist you can apply to your work.
A good story draws you in, right from the very first line. It makes you stop in your tracks and pay attention to what's happening. It puts you through an experience as if it's happening to you. That's a type of story I hope you'll be able to write after going through lessons I share on this blog.
When we're done, you'll have everything you need to craft a story that captures the attention of your audience and doesn't let go until the end.
After you've written a great story, the next step is to get it on the radar of a magazine, publisher or studio.
To a beginner, the world of publishing may seem mysterious, vast and uncrackable. So it's natural to wonder how to break in? There's no sugarcoating around it. It is hard. But not impossible.
Thousands of aspiring writers sit down every year to type their first novel. But only a few hundred manage to sell their work to a publisher or studio.
The reason most writers fail isn't that they didn't work hard enough. It's not their fault. They haven't been given the right tools and coaching.
Good writing and pitching guidance can help a writer develop 10 times faster than otherwise, and make the leap from writer to author. This blog will help you know what you're doing and why.
A novel is typically 60,000 words or more. A screenplay has a format of its own. For a short story, you'll use the same principles, but with a simpler plot and fewer characters.
Whether you want to write a short story or a series of books, and whether fiction or non fiction, the ingredients are more or less the same.
And they can be learned and passed on to others. You can write a powerful story, get it published and be the author you've always wanted to be.
As you go through this blog, remember that no rule is set in stone. Every rule can be broken, as long as you are aware of which rule you're deviating from and why. You should ultimately do whatever works to achieve the impact you desire.
That's it for now. If you're all fired up about the idea of writing your first novel and getting it published, head over to the 7 steps to write fiction and get your work published.
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