Regulate the Heartbeat of your Story

If your story has a healthy heart, it will result in happy readers and audiences.

A story lives and breathes and demands from its creator a life that will be shared for eternity.

In crafting an inspired narrative the writer must always hold the attention of those reading the story, who might watch the story unfold on stage, on the big screen, or on television, and continue to live in their minds long after experiencing its magic.

To achieve this the writer must continuously move the story forward to dramatise its impact, even if the story includes events that took place in the past, mining the inner life of the story.

The writer must also turn ordinary, everyday happenings into extraordinary events by dramatising the story, and infusing it with conflict, inciting the characters to take motivated action in achieving their goals and fulfilling their respective destinies.

Let’s weave a little tale to demonstrate how the writer can craft a cunning tale by regulating the story’s heartbeat

A beautiful woman wakes up in a bed one morning next to a handsome man, who snores and is fast asleep. She quietly slips out of bed and tip-toes to the bathroom, closing the door behind her.

Standing with her back pressed against the door, her mind drifts to a harrowing nightmare showing how the handsome man sleeping next to her kidnapped her and her daughter.

The man awakens and finds her not in the bed, he gets up and opens a drawer, finding it empty. Hearing a rustle in the bathroom he walks towards the closed door.

The door bursts open and the woman holds a gun, firing two shots, killing him, and then escapes from her captivity.

The writer has now turned an ordinary event and extraordinary, easing the flow of the story with tempo, pacing and rhythm, heightening the suspense, evoking conflict and revealing motivated action.

To heighten the impact of the story, the resolution of the story must satisfy the curiosity of its reader/audience.

During the climax of the story, the woman (protagonist) is confronted by the handsome man (antagonist), discovering that he loaded the gun with blanks to set in motion the actions of a sadistic psychopath for whom the chase is part of the thrill.

How to regulate the heartbeat of your story

  • Feed your talent. Talent must be stimulated by facts and ideas. Gather your material any way you can. The hardest part of writing is knowing what to write. By doing research, you acquire information. You must take time and effort to acquire knowledge. The information you collect will allow you to operate from the position of choice and responsibility.
  • You must be familiar with other stories that relate to or are like the story you want to write. Each Genre imposes certain conventions on the story. The choice of Genre sharply determines and limits what is possible within a story.
  • Once you are clear about what you want to write about, you must start by planting the seed of your idea and explore the Premise, your central idea of what the story is about.
  • Having a Premise is not enough. You do not have enough information. You must dramatise it. Define it. Articulate it. Conceptualise your idea.
  • Character is the essential foundation of the story. It is the heart, soul, and nervous system of your story. Before you put a word to paper, you must know who the people in your story are.
  • When you build your story (the whole) you must make coherent sense of the parts (story events) and all the information you have gathered through research and exploration (characters, setting). 
  • It is vital for the writer to maintain control over the story from page 1 until the final page with meticulous plotting, skilfully manipulating the emotions of the reader and eventually the target audience.
  • Once you have made sense of the whole it is important to deconstruct your story and identify your story events, and the parts that make up the whole by crafting a story outline.
  • Once you have outlined your story from beginning to end it is time to deconstruct the whole. This is done by doing a Scene Outline, using an index card for each story event (scene or sequence) to explore the interior world of the event and to explore the actions, motivations, and conflicts of your characters.
  • You will start writing the first draft. A first draft is not the end but marks the real beginning of the writing process. You must convert the storyline description and card outline to a full scene description and add dialogue.

Our THE WRITE JOURNEY course explores the process of writing a story from inspiration to first draft.

If you have completed a draft of your screenplay or novel, we also offer the services of Story Editing and Polishing.

© The Writing Studio / Daniel Dercksen