Friday, February 18, 2011

What Makes a Story?

“A writer’s job is to create characters and give them a place to grow. Start with a situation, introduce the characters, then begin to narrate.” – Stephen King

Hmm, okay. But that surprises me. What about plot? Mr. King is definitely more concerned with the characters he creates, than the plot. Right?

 Here's one of my favorite quotes. "What’s happening now must be inherently more interesting than what just happened." –Doug Heyes

Truer words were never spoken.

So what makes a story?

The characters and their problems. And how they choose to fix those problems. But I'm a plot kinda girl. So my stories are heavy on that. 

If someone is a new writer, I can understand how confused they would be. Because I was that new writer. I was very confused. I agree, most books are character-narration oriented. There are a lot of books that are focused on plot, too. 

So what makes a story?

A writer gets an idea. The writer lets the idea fester. Then this writer starts with one word on a computer screen or piece of paper. (The beginning) The writer introduces the situation, the character, and the problem. The writer uses action and dialogue to get to the solution and ending.

Have I forgotten anything? 





28 comments:

  1. Sounds like it in a nutshell, yup!

    Have a great weekend!!! :O)

    ReplyDelete
  2. You nailed it.

    I think The King was hinting at how a story is nourished in the mind of a writer. Characters have to captivate you to have someone to drive through a plot.And to have a plot you must first have a situation. To have a situation that becomes a story you must have characters. so, I guess none can exist without the other. Sometimes new writers get too caught up in plot outlines and forget to simply get with their characters and WRITE. know what I mean?

    ReplyDelete
  3. The character learns from events in the story and grows as a result of it.

    :-)

    ReplyDelete
  4. as the characters might have no choice but to grow...

    even short stories have a need for more than just the incident.

    I like your quote "What’s happening now must be inherently more interesting than what just happened." –Doug Heyes.

    Well keeping all the above in mind everyone should feel a little more confident in writing a better story.

    Great post!

    Jacqueline Howett Author of The Greek Seaman.
    http://jacquelinehowett.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  5. A beginning, a middle, and an end. All stories, long or short, have these elements. If they don't, then it's probably not a very good story.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I liked the Doug Heyes quote as well. I'm all about the plot as well but I've come to realize that if you don't create interesting characters, no one will care what happens to them.

    ReplyDelete
  7. You have said it perfectly, Robyn. I too am a big fan of the plot.But interesting characters make a good plot great.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I love how you're able to sum it up in just a sentence.....it reminds me of that quote (who said it??) "It is nothing to write. You just sit down at a typewriter and open a vein."

    they typewriter ref lets you know how old this quote is! But, it's true. It seems simple to lay it out "idea...characters...story" but the actual process is so much more intense!

    great post. have a good weekend!

    ReplyDelete
  9. You got it:)
    I do hope that my writing captures the character with a transformed life. I never want to leave them in the shackles I throw them in!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Good point. I like the idea of letting an idea fester. I do that a lot.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I love this, bff! Great quote and great wisdom. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  12. Stephen King is such a good author. I'm glad he's supportive of the writing community and not aloof from it.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I'm a character kinda guy. I create my characters and then let them take me along on their amazing adventure. I know the beginning, but rarely the end . . . until, well, I get to 'the end'. Okay, I'm not that much of a pantster, but . . . to some extent. I do agree that each chapter past the beginning "must be inherently more interesting than what just happened". If not, well, why keep reading?

    Great post, my friend.

    ReplyDelete
  14. That pretty mucn covers it! Way to be concise, Robyn! :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hello fellow crusader! Just dropping by to check out your blog. I like this post. It's thought-provoking. People always have their own ideas about what makes a story a story, but I think Misha is right. The character/s must go through some kind of change in order to make it a complete story. I look forward to reading more about you.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Dropped by from Rachael's crusade list to say hello! Looks to be a lot of fun already! Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I like that, "characters and their problems". Also, I'm stopping by as a fellow crusader and new follower. On to the first challenge!

    ReplyDelete
  18. You got it all, my writer pal!!! Throw in that writing itch, and a story is bound to unfold one way or the other.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I love plot and I love characters... I think genre makes a HUGE difference though, as to which is more pronounced. I tend to write suspense and mystery, so by definition, plot is bigger, but I've read both I just didn't get all that into and it's because I don't really get to know the characters... good luck finding the line!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I dunno'; I'm a big fan of jus' puttin' one word after another an' watchin' the action. I'm not sure if I ever will get it right with mixin' up the characters an' the plots. Then again, as long as it makes it to the movies, I'm good with it. Thanks for some great thoughts.

    ~ Yaya

    ReplyDelete
  21. Thanks Robyn! This made me laugh! I love "nut-shells". :)

    ReplyDelete
  22. I think plot is important, but if you don't care about the characters, it's sort of a moot point.

    Nice quotes!

    You know, I still feel like a new writer in a lot of ways, despite the fact that I've been writing for over 2 years now.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Excellent points. Great storytelling is my first love. And then beautiful langauage. BUT if it's too pretty, then I get pulled out of the story.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Love 'On Writing'. Best writing book I've ever read! Of course, that description of what goes into a story should include something else: Tears, soul, struggle, and lots and lots of caffeine.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I just found this, it isn't in my Google Reader, so phooey! I'll respond to this tomorrow! :)

    ReplyDelete
  26. Great post! A story forms in the mind,"festers" - grows, characters "appear" to move the plot and carry the story to completion. You covered it. :)

    Thank you.

    ReplyDelete

Leave me a note! :)