“Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.” - C.S. Lewis
There are so many questions one will have to ask oneself about his story at some point, and at the beginning, we know almost nothing except a glimmer of an idea. When you decide you want to make a story, there's all the possibilities of what could happen, but what do you feel when you think of your idea? Mystery? Ominous? And what important theme do you feel so very strongly about that you know will be the heart of the story? a theme is like a moral or positive character trait proven good by the story. Or something harder to explain.
The heart is the most important thing. The carrying out of writing the story will come, but what makes your story emotional?
Who will do what, and why will they do it? Character backstories build up the blocks for who they grow up to become. You'll have to figure out what your story will be. There are so many pieces, ideas, squares to consider putting in your quilt, threads to consider weaving into your tapestry.
This is the hardest part for me at least, because it always seems to take so long to figure it out, and I'm always worrying my story's not right, that I've missed something, that it doesn't really happen this way. I'm partially beginning to think that this is something you will have to go through continuously, even when you've almost finished writing a few drafts of the book. I suppose we shouldn't worry about it so much. If the Muse interrupts, if the story stops us in the smack dab middle of our work, we must listen to it and do what is best for the overall story.
This whole post is a bunch of questions we should, at some point in writing the story, answer for ourselves. There's no particular order to answer them in, because you won't know everything at the start, and even if you think you know how it happens, your muse could pop up and say, "Nope. You've got it wrong. The character doesn't do that. They weren't raised that way. And now your story will have to be completely rewritten again in order for it to make sense."
You won't be able to answer this incomplete, scattered list of questions in one sitting either, unless you've already got your story completely figured out, and even then, you may only think you know your story. But keep asking them and trying to find their answers, even if you don't have pen and paper handy. Edgar Allen Poe said "It is this never thinking, unless sitting down to write, which causes so much indifferent composition."
How does your story excite, interest, intrigue you? Remember, you're writing for yourself. You're the first reader and if you don't like it, other people might still like it (I know, that was weird, I thought I was going one way with that thought, but then I went the other way).
I've learned over the last year that stories are important because the good ones are about the choices the characters make that reveal what sort of character they are, and how their character is developing. They aren't stories about things that happen to your characters, but about what your characters do. They're not passive. Don't let them be. Everyone's trying to control their own piece of world. How do they succeed?
How do your characters change over the course of the book?
Once you know what your story is, and can put it solidly in one form and look at it and find no fault in it (after changing it over and over again), like an outline of sorts or writing it as if it were a fairy tale, something else comes up.
This is the question of HOW you will tell this story. Will you make it a novella, short story, big book, E-book only, series, tv show, movie, manga, anime, cartoon, album of songs with lyrics telling the story, or a bunch of paintings that hint at it? Or will you just leave it alone, buried within the earth, and pray it never comes up in conversation?
There are so many ways to tell stories now. We are more equipped than before to tell good stories, and stories are even more available to us than they were ten years ago.
And because there are more books, there is the bigger realization of how many ways there are to present your story.
And if you decide a book is best, how are you going to write it? What pacing? Will you sum up what happens here, or will there be no scene breaks, just one very very long scene from birth to death account of someone's life? What will you tell? What will you show? What will you leave out?
Will you write in third person or first? Past tense or present? Or will you do what I'm doing now and write in second person, future tense? :P
Where will you begin the story? The day your main character is born (not that you should do that), or after a bunch of stuff has happened, or what? What age will your characters be for most of the story, or is your book about a character's whole life? Are you saying something about growing up?
Is your story about one person or a family or community of people? Or is it about two: best friends, look-alikes, siblings, or lovers? Or is it about a few random (but not random) people that a certain event affected each of their lives?
Remember why you are writing this particular story, what its theme is. If you know its theme, it will help you narrow down how to tell your story.
Tone is very important too. Is your story aiming to be: light-hearted, contemplative, suspenseful, literary, contemporary, dark, mysterious, funny, adventurous, speculative, or more than one of them? Which ones?
Most of the time, we do not know the answers to these questions when we begin writing. We write, groping around a maze, trying to understand. And there's something beautiful about that, because we are adventurers.
And I should probably follow my own advice. These questions just sort of popped up in my head so I wanted to ask the world, and myself. I hope it helps you in some way, and thanks for reading by the way! It means a lot that people read these.
One thing I love about God is that He knew Esther would be around when her people would need her to do what she did. We were born for such a time as this. Be at peace now.
Food for thought. What do you think?