10 basic steps to own the writing process

Crafting the story to lay the foundation of a solid blue print begins long before you start writing the story

When you start writing a new story it is so easy to be overwhelmed by the intricate detail of what happens in the story – the parts that make up the story – that you forget about the whole story.
Rushing to write the first draft, you patch the details together and soon find that you have a story full of holes, or one that feels empty and does not live up what inspired the idea.
De-motivated and lost you soon lose interest in the idea and leave a potentially great story unfinished.
It’s like watching a film you can’t wait to see on DVD with remote at hand and skip through the boring bits to get to the end, then finding that you need to track back to make sense of resolutions that baffle you.
It is about story, the whole story, and nothing but that.
Detail comes later during the writing of the story.
Crafting the story to lay the foundation of a solid blue print begins long before you start writing the story.
Sometimes we get lost in the daunting process of turning abstract or vague ideas into a tangible story that is logical, cohesive and worth investing the time it takes to develop the story to its full dramatic, comedic or dynamic potential.
Always remember that in the end, we all serve the story. The process of creating a story is bigger than you are so bow down to its magnitude and own the process without struggle or complexity.
If you own your story before writing it you will be able to complete a Top Sheet, a standard document that will be forwarded to potential producers, publishers and investors that will sum up what your story is about, why they should invest in your project, and how relevant it is.
If you have a winning Top Sheet you might even be commissioned to write the story!

10 basic steps to owning the writing process

Step 1 – Premise
It begins with that perpetual question: What is it you want to write? What is this idea that you want to develop into a story? 


Step 2 – Concept
You have to now conceptualise your premise.  A story is ultimately about character and action. Think about whom your story is about and what propels your character into action? You story could be low concept or high concept. 


Step 3 – Genre
Now that you have your premise and concept and are clear about what you want to write, your genre – the type of story you are writing – will logically reveal itself.

Step 4 – Theme
Now you have to lay down the foundation of your story. Start by asking yourself why you are writing the story? What do you want people to take away after reading or watching your story?

Step 5 – Characters
Now that you have your premise, concept and theme, it’s time to take a closer look at the people who will live in your story and define the roles of the characters. Whose story is it? Who is the bad guy? What are the antagonistic forces that will prevent your main character from achieving his or her goal?

Step 6 – Plot
Great, now it’s time to find the right plot, or line of dramatic action will you set in motion to keep people involved in your story from start to finish? You have to use the ideal plot that will be best for your story.

Step 7 – Structure
At this stage there will be a traffic jam exploding in your head with all the overload of information you have to now organise into cohesive logic. This is where you use structure to make sense of your story, and create story logic.  No matter what plot you are using,  you will explore the set up, confrontation and resolution of your story, better known as the beginning, middle and end, a formula Greek Philosopher Aristotle set in motion almost 4000 years ago with his Six Elements of Drama – so don’t blame Hollywood!

Step 8 – Story Outline
You are now ready for your story outline – also known as a treatment – to outline the events that happen in your story from start to finish. You have to look at all the events (the parts) that will make up your story.

Step 9 – Top Sheet
You can now write a professional top sheet with confidence and clarity. The top sheet includes your genre, premise, concept, theme, short synopsis, summary of your characters, a biography of yourself and a summary of the status of your project. Now that you own your story, you are empowered to work according the specific deadlines. And be able to give producers and publishers a definite date of delivery without any stress.

Step 10 – Card Outline
Once you have a story outline that perfectly captures your complete story from its captivating opening to its meaningful and satisfactory ending, it’s time to turn your story events into traditional scenes and sequence that are functional and amplifies your theme.  You do this by creating a card outline, using standard index cards.

Organic process
At this stage of the writing process you will have discovered that it is indeed an organic process and that up to the card outline all you writing have been by hand, allowing you to free associate and write freehand, fully exploring left brain creativity.
It’s an organic process that fosters research, allowing you to gain a degree of confidence so that you are always on top of what you are writing about, operating from choice, not necessity or ignorance.
It’s an inspiring process of constantly exploring your story and discovering new aspects of what you are writing about; a process driven by causality, of cause and effect that constantly raises the stakes in your story.
Once the card outline is complete – you could end up with 250 cards – it’s time to turn on your computer and start writing the first draft of your story.

The Writing Process is fully explored in The Write Journey

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