Make Your Story Happen How-To Guide Step 2

Step two to Make Your Story Happen: Direct

My 5th grade Literature teacher said that every paper we write has to have a point. And, then, that everything in the paper should talk about the point. In a story, you choose a main character. Everything in that story revolves around and relates to that main focus.

Nancy Botwin, played by Mary Louise Parker, is the main character of the show ‘Weeds’. Everyone else relates to Nancy. The audience relates people to her—Shane and Silas are Nancy’s sons, Andy is Nancy’s brother-in-law, Doug bought marijuana from Nancy, Celia was a perpetual thorn in Nancy’s side…

It’s all relative.

Making a story happen is about selecting a focus, then directing everything toward that focus.

At this stage, I like to do a lot of pre-writing.

It’s kind of like using the Scientific Method to produce a story. After I’ve given my hypothesis, I start to make predictions, rather, start a word sketch about the story. Unlike in science, I don’t have to worry too much about logic or laws of physics. In my story, I can write anything and make it work, no matter how ridiculous.

The only limits are my imagination.

Your only limits are your imagination.

This is the brainstorming stage. Lots of opportunity here.

Sometimes, I do an outline. Very official. Very nerdy.

It can look something like this:

  • Intro
    • Explanation of focus/What got me to the starting point
    • Components of story
    • Statement of purpose
  • First component
    • Introduce it, explain it
    • Connect it to focus
  • Next component…

And so on. Sometimes, this is even hand-written or doodled in my gajillion notebooks. (I’m a big fan of markers and colors. See? )

Other times, mostly for topical posts, I’ll get a punchline in mind. Then, I have to figure out how to get there. It happened with It’s All Relative. After watching ‘Interstellar’, I was amused by the notion that everything is relative. I knew that Einstein created the theories of relativity, so I read about them and wrote the baseline explanation. As I wrote, examples came to mind and the whole post came together.

Directing everything to one point helps the project congeal.

Continue to Step 3: Affect