For my short story about the murderess (she has a name now, Felicity) I am trying out a six step formula, which I read about in an article in ‘Writing’ magazine. Here it is:
- Present your character with a problem.
- Create an incident that intensifies the problem.
- Let your character react to the intensified problem.
- Devise an incident or set of circumstances that thwarts all the characters efforts and possibly seems to make the problem insurmountable.
- Let the character react in a way that suits his or her personality. It can be one more attempt to overcome the problem by firm action or something less positive.
- Terminate their efforts either by admission of their own failure, or by a successful solution to the original problem.
When actually writing the story I will start at step 3 (a moment of high drama) continue with the drama in step 4. After step 4, I’ll devise a way to give the reader the information in steps 1 and 2 (the backstory). Then onto step 5.
It is claimed the above formula works. It will produce over and over again solid plots for stories. They will have a word count suitable for magazine publication and competition entries. Well, we shall see.
Now, I’ve tried a variety of plotting systems, index cards, plot as you go along (headlights system), and even no plotting at all. But, I am happiest if I write a treatment. This is a narrative outline written in the present tense, with crucial dialogue added in. I like to frolic with all the story material that comes into my imagination and get it recorded.
The treatment is heavily edited and revised until it is a solid story. For the current story this is nearly complete and will be my next posting. See you then.