The Principles of Building a Story

Most professional writing falls into two categories: creative writing—which includes novels, short stories, poems, and screenplays—and content writing, which includes manuals, guidebooks, and marketing products.

Building your story starts with:

  • Devoting a lot of time to thinking about what you want to write
  • Researching the idea that has kindled the flame of inspiration
  • Brainstorming whether the idea is not simply a flight of fancy
  • Hearing the voices of characters probing your creative intuition

Never assume that because you’ve written a story before, you’re ready to tackle a new story. You’re starting on a blank page, just as an artist stares at a blank canvas.

A daunting process challenges you, one that only you can master.

Whether you’re writing a novel, novella, short story, or screenplay, don’t be afraid to try out different voices, and styles. Experiment with different story writing techniques, story ideas, and story structures. Keep what works for you and discard the rest. Your material and process will guide you to your own set of rules.

Your efforts will inform your writing style and choices. Every novel or screenplay that you read will teach you what to do or what not to do with plot development, characterization, point of view, and style. The more voices you read, and then imitate, the closer you will get to finding your individual writing voice and style.

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a new writer working on mastering your craft, it’s essential to follow a writing process that will lay a solid foundation for your story.