When Lin Anderson asked the above question at her workshop, there was a long pause. It seems so simple. What is story? Yet the only person brave enough to give any kind of answer made it so complicated and philosophical that I didn’t even try to follow it. My own thought was that a story has a beginning, middle and end. But I was glad I didn’t say that, because it wasn’t what Lin was looking for, though that point was made later. Lin’s point was that stories are characters in action.
It’s so obvious, yet even a seasoned writer can forget this. Lin herself said that in looking over her notes on this she was left feeling that she really ought to do so more often!
Whatever we are working on, the story is the important thing. Remember these three things:
1) A character is at the heart of every story- drama can’t exist without character.
2) The character must be in action in order for there to be drama.
3) Action is driven by conflict.
Every story needs conflict. It doesn’t need to be big in world terms, but it should be big to your main character. It should also be big enough for your audience to care about the outcome. They need to be rooting for your protagonist. And the conflict needs to continue and grow throughout the story. As one problem is solved, a bigger one comes along.
So, how can we actually accomplish all this?
Lin took us through the three act structure- the beginning, middle and end. Told you that came in eventually! In order to do all her amazing information justice, I’m going to devote one blog post to each of the three. I hope you will all come back for more!