During the recent ACFW Conference in Dallas, TX, a few other writers and I started chatting about our strengths and weaknesses in writing. Usually it’s pretty easy to point out weaknesses in ourselves, but strengths? I think for most of us that is a little more difficult.
Which got me thinking….
One of my strengths is ‘storytelling’. You probably don’t want me for a line-edit (grammar is NOT my strength), but as far as seeing the big picture, the story concept, I’m pretty good at that. In fact, one of my favorite things to do with writer friends is brainstorm!
Let’s step back and take a look at S.T.O.R.Y.
Yes, I’m a big fan of acronyms (give me a break, I work as an SLP by day so I’m always trying to think of memory-helps J
The hallmarks of a good story can be summed up into some basic components:
S – Solid characters
At the heart of every good story is either one…or usually more, strong or powerful characters. The best stories take us on a journey with believable characters who are flawed, wounded, and determined in some way or other. Do you know your main characters? Are they engaging? Does the reader have a reason to like them? To cheer for them? Or at the very least, are your characters interesting enough (even if they’re not good) to draw the reader in a make them want to come along on the journey.
T – Tale
Is there a story? The best books aren’t about people being thrown together with nothing to do (okay, unless we’re talking about The Great Gatsby ;-) Seriously, what is happening in your story? Have you created a world? Do you have something to tell to bring the reader along? A journey to make with these amazing characters? The next one will help us out with this problem.
O – Objectives
What are the goals of your characters? What does he want? What drives her? The Bible says ‘without a vision the people perish’, well in many ways the same can happen to your story if your characters don’t have a goal. Many times there is both an internal and external goal.
R – Real Conflict
What’s going to stop your excellent characters on this amazing journey from reaching their goals? Conflict! And more importantly, conflict takes on many hues. In the best books, there is both internal and external conflict, keeping the tension high and moving the story along at a solid pace.
Y – Your voice
This is what makes your story….your story. The YOU factor! Your voice, your style, your turn of phrase, and personal storytelling skills. The call you have on your heart for this story. Your humor or drama. Your personal experience and imagination. All of these things are special pieces of your STORY that only YOU can bring! Do you know why you want to write this story? If you don’t know….your characters might not either, and it will show.
If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by this new info and would like some help, I have a special treat!!
Today I’m going to offer a brainstorming session on StoryCraft to one commenter. Please indicate whether you want to be a part of the drawing or not (and leave your email address).
What it will entail is:
A form you complete on your story
A 15-30 minute chat related to information on the form
And a follow-up email reviewing what was discussed
Share your thoughts! How have you used the elements of STORY to write your own?