A few months ago, we shared an article all about creative writing processes, where we shared some general ideas for getting started writing your story. Today we’ll be talking about structuring the story of your creative writing piece.
The first thing you want to think about when writing your story is your exposition: Where and when does everything begin? The exposition sets the stage for the action, outlining the initial characters, their wants, and their conflicts. This is also where you can begin to hint at a larger conflict that drives the story. Some good questions to ask yourself when planning your exposition are:
- What is my protagonist’s normal world?
- What does my protagonist want in this normal world?
- Who are the other characters central to my protagonist’s life?
- What are some routines that are important to my character?
Remember, don’t jump directly into the conflict of the story. Instead, let the reader get used to the character and their world before you introduce their adventure.
The next part of your story you have to consider is how the action starts. Think about the kind of conflict that will be present in the story. The conflict can be anything: something between characters, between the protagonist and society, or within the protagonist’s thoughts. Think about what causes this conflict and how the protagonist’s world changes. This will help to start the action of your book. Here are some other questions to consider:
- What is the conflict of my story?
- What does my protagonist want to happen?
- Why does the conflict start at this point in my protagonist’s life?
- Why is the conflict significant to my protagonist and the other characters?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you will start to have a better idea of what scenes you want to include. You could outline these scenes, or just give yourself a general idea of how you want the story to continue.
Then, you need to think about how the action stops. Typically, this occurs just after a point of high dramatic intensity, or climax, of the story. Think about what the biggest challenge or fear that the protagonist has to face, or a massive surprise that upends their idea of their place in the world. Here are some questions to consider for the climax of your story:
- What is something that haunts my protagonist?
- What would cause my protagonist to re-evaluate what they want?
- At what point will my protagonist give up because something is too difficult or painful?
- What would cause my protagonist to keep going despite reaching this “give up” point?
And then, finally, you can start thinking of some sort of resolution. Think about how your protagonist finally overcomes their challenge and consider what actually changes in their life. This is where you can consider the possibility of adding on to your work in a different volume. Even though the protagonist may have overcome a personal struggle, there still may be greater issues in their society that they have to fix. Here are some questions you may want to consider:
- What does my protagonist’s world look like now?
- Is my protagonist satisfied?
- Is there something that would surprise the protagonist and change the way they view their adventure?
And that’s it! Even though many of these aspects were discussed broadly, they are still important to consider when writing a work of your own.
Although these things are good to plan before you start writing, there is absolutely nothing wrong with making some aspects of your story as you go. You may not know every aspect of the resolution of your story, and that’s okay. However, it is likely a good idea to have at least a rough idea of where you want your story to go, or else you may get stuck somewhere along the way or become too overwhelmed to make it to the conflict of your story. Also note that the length of the parts of your story will differ based on the kind of story you are writing.
This article was written by Ruby Barenberg. Ruby is a current junior at Lubbock High School where, outside of volunteering for Robin’s Nest Tutoring, she participates in academic decathlon and UIL competitions. She also runs a book blog.
This article was edited by Helen Xie. Helen is currently a junior at Lubbock High School. She is involved in many extracurriculars in addition to volunteer work, including Model UN, Lubbock High’s GSA, and Robotics.