Updated: Dec 31, 2019
In the first post of this series, I laid out a few things I do to create my story concept and create my characters. Ultimately, I end up with an outline I can use to write my story/book. In this post, I will begin to go over each of those entries. This process makes my story writing flow easier, and it helps keep my story on track while writing. I hope this series does the same for you.
I am starting with a fresh new story, and I will go through each of these steps to create everything needed to get my story from my head to paper.
The first step is coming up with your Story Concept. What exactly is – a Story Concept? Simply put, it is the Where, What, Who, When, and Why; that basically sums it up.
Basic story idea—my basic story idea is:
While looking through the kitchen window of his cabin, the MC thinks he witnesses a man murder his family in the cabin next door. The MC is now faced with what to do. With no cell service unless you are closer to the main lodge, he has to decide if he can stop the killer from disposing of the bodies before the authorities have a chance to arrest him. The MC finds himself caught between wanting to catch the killer, and deciding how much danger he is willing to put his family in to stop a murderer. After following the man to a warehouse, and involving the authorities, Geoffrey realizes he made a big mistake.
Simple and to the point. I will expand on this later when I create my outline. I suggest you write whatever will jog your memory as to what your story is about. As much detail as you need. For me, a few sentences give me enough information for me to draw on.
At this point I don't have a working title. I usually get inspired somewhere during the creation of the story. Sometimes I find it hard to write if I don't have a title in mind, but for now, it is not crucial to continuing the creative process.
What genre is it—Suspense/Thriller
It is crucial to nail this down. Knowing what genre you are writing in will help determine certain details. If you are writing a fantasy, you know you are going to need to use description to bring your reader into the story. Where as a romance will focus more on the relationship of the two lovebirds.
Where and when it takes place--city/state/country/season.
Wisconsin, Brule River area. Early fall. At a mom and pop run lodge, resort, and campground. Not a state-run facility.
Again, give yourself enough information that works for you. The location is a place I know well, so I just needed a few tidbits of information that will help me later when I’m setting the scene.
Length of story
This is going to be a short story. 10,000 words or less.
This serves a few purposes. The length of the story will determine overall development. Since this is a suspense/thriller, I know a story that is 10K in length, will move quickly. I don’t have the luxury of drawing out the story with details that a longer length would afford me. When I begin to construct my outline, I will structure it so that my setting and my characters carry the plot with the correct amount of description and the right pace.
Next question you need to consider:
Is this a series or stand-alone story?
If it is a stand-alone, then you don’t have to worry about bringing characters forward into other books. You won’t have to spend the extra time plotting an overall idea for a series.
A series concept requires a bit more when it comes to the overall story concept development, but it isn’t anything that should worry or scare you. Just make sure to consider the long-term vision of where you want your series to go.
When I plotted out my Damien Kaine Series, that’s what I did. I knew my detectives would go on to solve other heinous murders. I laid out the world they would live in, based on moving forward with other stories. My settings and characters were created with that intention. I knew they would need a supporting cast, some more important than others. (This will become clearer in the next part of this series.)
Part 3 in this series will go over the traits of each of your characters within the story concept you have developed. By taking the time to create your characters, from their wants and desires to their vices, traits, and backgrounds, you should begin to see how your story is developing. However, the key to making this all work is taking the time to set the story concept up. So take your time in this step before you move on. Flush out your idea thoroughly.
You may find you need to add more layers to this “outline” that will help you. Maybe a few more headings that will allow you to get the complete vision of your story. Just don't skimp on this step. By filling in as much detail as you can, the next step - character creation, will be much easier.
See you next Tuesday.
I write crime fiction horror, thriller, and paranormal novels. My time in the Coast Guard and my degree in Forensic Chemistry helps me create fantastic stories. If I'm not writing, I am binge watching Netflix and probably drinking whiskey.