How? You ask.
Remember when some teacher at some point tried to suggest that an outline is really important, but you were bored and looking out the window trying to think what to do after school or whether you had enough time between classes to catch up with your buddy, or if you could make to your locker and to the next class in time?
Should have paid attention. Just sayin'.
An outline is going to be really helpful in any writing project, so instead of thinking of it as a chore, think of it as an interview. Ask yourself:
- What is the overall story?
- Who is the 'hero' of the story?
- Who are the other characters?
- Where does it take place?
- When does it take place?
- What is the problem the character(s) face?
- How does the main character solve the problem?
- Does the main character have a mentor or close friend? Who is that?
- Do you want to write in first-person; that is, as if you are in the story? ("I wanted to write down my thoughts before I forgot. Here's how my story goes.")
***Whether writing on paper or on the computer... Save your work!!***
As you tell the story, you'll think of details to add. Most stories have a 'bad guy' character. Do you want to 'analyze' why this person is a negative force, or do you simply want to have a suspicious person lurking around? Do you want to place several suspicious characters in the story, to make the reader guess who the true bad guy is? When you start the story, how will you fill in your reader as to the background of the main character? Do you want to simply describe who he or she is, how the person got to be where he or she is today, etc., or do you want to let that be known a bit at a time?
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Listen to a song that tells a story, and tell that story in richer detail.
- Use a story one of your parents, grandparents, uncle or aunt has told you. Stick to the straight story or meander off into a fantasy of it.
- Write about a building you think is interesting but know nothing about.
- Bring up a memory from when you were younger and start a story with that.
- One of the traditional writing 'rules' is, write what you know. You'll be surprised how much you know about a favorite subject-an activity, your background, or sport. Use that in your story.
- Don't forget the value of surprise in your story. You might not even know what that is until you're in the middle of writing it!
- I'm so bored right now that....
- When I heard it, I couldn't believe it.
- It looked bad, really bad.
- She didn't know her best friend as well as she thought.
- What was that doing there?
- I just stepped off the train, not knowing where to go.
- I never thought this would happen.
- My little sister or brother is impossible, really impossible.
- People think I'm crazy, but I actually do hear stuff no one else seems to hear.
- Everybody else thought he was a good person, but I knew he wasn't.
- When I first saw it, I didn't realize it was a hand.
- It was over. Wasn't it?