Hi from Gail Gaymer Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org While you read this, I am in Germany on tour singing with a Christian chorale. I love Germany so this is a special treat for me. And though I’m there, I didn’t want to leave out the next part of the Story Series which I’m providing for writers and readers alike.
Story is taking an idea and bringing it to life by transporting the reader from one world to another through the experiences of a character on a mission striving to reach a goal with a purpose. It captures the reader along with the characters so they can also experience the journey through the emotion, trials and joys of the main character they’ve grown to love. The next question is where to begin?
The first step is finding story, and stories come from everywhere. Pieces of story elements pop into my mind in a variety of ways—song lyrics, magazine articles, newspaper or TV reports and features, movies or novels that trigger new ideas, interviews, friends and family’s experiences, observing others, and from my own experiences. And since I write Christian fiction, Bible verses often lead me to a theme that incites a story. You gather ideas from the same types of places.
Ideas usually strike my mind in pieces, and I tuck them in the niches in my head. Like magnets pieces connect with pieces that fit that story like a jigsaw puzzle and finally I see the picture. I would think most people jot ideas on paper or type them into your computer. My ideas, for the most part, are lodged in my head.
Once you have the nugget of your story, then the work begins making decisions about plot, characters, setting, tone and theme. Story relationships form setting up possible conflict, setting stimulates ways to define character and create tension, and opposition and problems arouse emotion. The plot takes seed and tone come into play—serious, comedic, dramatic, suspenseful, or nostalgic. How will this story best reach the reader?
Once these ideas come together, the author focuses on purpose. Yes, a novel is to entertain, but a novel that lingers also provides a message or a lesson, a theme that weaves through the story and leaves the reader with something to hang onto once the cover of the book is closed.
Themes are often the classics, such as: good vs. evil, positive vs. negative, love vs. hate, hope vs. despair, peace vs. chaos, life vs. death. Some themes are based on human values: gossip breeds contempt, the rich help the poor, love conquers all, kindness is a virtue, and you add a thousand more.
A theme works when it is something that is part of human nature and understood by the reader, something that causes the reader to cheer on the character toward his goal. This happens when the goal:
- Can be reached
- Makes sense to the reader
- Motivated by something reasonable and understood
- Is important
- Not guaranteed, the character has a possibility of failure
The theme must be woven through the plot like a fine thread. It is not the story, but the story is a vehicle to give the theme or message momentum.
Understanding what story is and taking the first step in developing ideas that will create a story that will linger in the reader’s memory means the author is on the way to a successful.
Part III three will cover the story premise.