The Principles of Building a Story

Learning how to craft a story that will transport readers, audiences, and viewers on an unforgettable journey is key to becoming a great novelist or screenwriter.

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.

A vital part of building your story is for you to find your own voice

As an aspiring writer of books, you should spend most of your spare time reading them. Read every genre and style. Read the classics, but read bad books too. This varied experience will show you the kind of writing you don’t want to produce, and writing that just doesn’t work.

Essential books for writers

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 have a writing process to give structure to your creative work

Once you have befriended your idea and you are confident about what you want to write, you can start to lay the foundation of your story. If you opt to skip the solid foundation of pre-writing, you’ll probably have trouble all through the writing, especially at the end, when you have a massive stack of pages that somehow have to be fixed.

No amount of decoration will fix a story that’s seriously flawed and likely to be rejected by agents and editors. Even if the author is “lucky” and actually sells the work to a publisher, reviewers will then probably do what they always do—without mercy—and perhaps the author will learn his lesson.

How can The Writing Studio help you to build a solid story?

If you want to craft your story with confidence, our The Write Journey course takes you through the process from inspiration to writing the first pages of your novel or screenplay.

If you’ve completed a story that you feel is not ready for the marketplace, you can submit your novel or screenplay for Editing and Polishing.

Follow these links to my other features:

10 Steps to own the writing process

Own The Writing Process

How to Plot your story