Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Art of Storytelling P.1: Discover the Story of Your Heart

First of all, I want to thank everyone for having patience with me recently. I've been pretty quiet on the blogosphere: However! Good things are coming from it. I'm on a roll writing my third book, and although I have several posts that I've started but have yet to finish, I am going to get back to posting at least once a week.

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(Oh, and guess what? Several people have complained that my mailing list isn't working, so I finally was able to fix it! You can now enter your email on the sidebar and have my posts sent directly to your inbox.)

In other news, I had tons of fun this past Saturday teaching a writing workshop for teens with YA author, Caroline George. We shared our publishing experiences, taught on the art of storytelling, played games, held a contest, participated in a book exchange, and signed books. (And maybe had a little too much chocolate and coffee ... if that's even possible! ;) )

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We are planning to hold more creative writing workshops though, so if you live in NC, GA, or SC, send us an email here. Give us the name of your school (or homeschool group), and we will try our best to arrange a visit. =)   

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But since most of you probably don't live on the southeast, I'd like to share a condensed version of what we discussed in the workshop.  

It's going to be divided into three parts. Today we will talk about what it means to master the art of storytelling, the 3 ingredients that every story needs, and how you can discover the story of your heart.

à What is the art of storytelling?
  • The art of storytelling is mastered when a writer writes the story of their heart and presents it in the basic story-telling format.
  • It is achieved when they write the story they are passionate about in a structure that works.
  • It is a combination of both passion and structure.

Many writers believe that writing is not an art if it is written based on a structure, or a "formula". However, that is just the opposite; the art of storytelling is mastered when we can combine both the right-side and the left-side of our brain to create a story that resonates with our readers.

If your novel lacks structure, then you risk losing the attention span of your reader (as well as an agent or publisher). Sure, your writing may be beautiful; however, writing a book is not just about your ability to string pretty words together.  

photo credit: Amazement awaits us at every corner.  James Broughton via photopin (license)

The first step in writing a story that mixes both art and structure is by first discovering the story of your heart.

You can do this by asking yourself the following questions:
  1. What are 3 things you're passionate about? (This can include certain topics you're interested in, hobbies, or even locations.)
  2. What are 3 things you're familiar with? (This can also include topics, hobbies, locations, etc.)
  3. What are 3 of your favorite books?
  4. Now, take a look at your 3 favorite books. Ask yourself: What do these stories have in common? (For example: Do they include a romance? Are they comedic? Take place on a beach? About zombie?)

Once you begin with the foundation of your story first, then you will realize that writing a book isn’t that difficult, as long as it is taken step by step.

In fact, writing a book and baking cookies have a lot in common. Although there are a variety of different types of cookies, they each begin with the same three basic ingredients: Eggs, milk, and flour.

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Similarly, each book begins with 3 basic ingredients as well: Plot, character, and setting. So after you figure out what the story of your heart is, it's time to uncover the 3 elements that is going to turn these ideas, your passions, into a story. 

However, keep in mind that when you write a book, structure should not be ignored.

Think of it this way: When you bake cookies, you can't just throw those 3 ingredients together and hope that, somehow, cookies will magically appear.

Instead, you have to follow a certain formula in order for them to actually be edible. The same applies to our writing as well.

In the following weeks, we will discuss how to develop each of these 3 elements: Your protagonist, setting, as well as the plot.

! Challenge: In the comments, combine 3 "ingredients" from a book or movie to create a new story idea. Be sure to respond to the other comments as well!

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1 comment:

  1. Okay. I thought this up in MAYBE a minute, but here goes:
    (1) a girl with an illness (such as The Fault in Our Stars or anything Lurlene McDaniel)
    (2) an inn on the beach (Nights in Rodanthe)
    (3) a friendship-based romance (like Todd and Christy from The Christy Miller Series


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