So You Want To Be An Author
Christmas is over. You are thinking about what is ahead in 2024. I know you. You have a story to tell. You’ve often thought, “I should write that down.” It may be something you experienced. It may be a story you would like to preserve for your family.
Or…maybe it’s a story you can see becoming a movie. Don’t laugh. It happens.
Me? I always wanted to write books. Novels. I love to read.
However, being a devourer of books does not necessarily make you a publishable author. So I did my research. I actually have a book out about what I learned called Writing to Publish: A Roadmap to Success. (And yes, that is a live link to the book’s Amazon page.)
I’m looking at this post as a “guide” for you as you start crafting your story.
Step one: Identify a problem your main character must address.
A good book always starts with the problem. It may be an event or conflict that jars our protagonist to the core or a simple disruption to the life our protagonist knows that he or she must address. It may be a bone shattering event or the hint of impending doom. Somehow, some way, the reader knows the protagonist is suffering or going to suffer on the first page.
Step two: Create a list of obstacles your character has to overcome for everything to work out.
A well-written novel takes the reader through a series of obstacles. These are problems that arise, issues to overcome, suffering to be endured or challenge forcing our hero to find inner strength he or she never knew existed. The character presses on, despite the obstacles, reaching that place where he or she can finally breathe.
Pressing on…persevering. It’s tough. The protagonist may want to throw it all in from time to time but something inside (or circumstances beyond the person’s control) cause your protagonist to keep going. This is the largest portion of the book. Through this part of a good book, the protagonist discovers inner strength he or she never knew existed. The character grows, rises to the occasion, becomes a better person, and gives the reader hope that the outcome will be a satisfying one.
Step 3: Identify the “last straw.”
It is that final battle your character faces. It may be an internal battle or a physical battle taking place in the latter portion of the book. The protagonist may still have a bit of growth ahead, but by this time, we know he or she is an overcomer. We've seen the development of strong character in our protagonist. We have hope. We can see the path ahead more clearly now.
Step 4: Craft a satisfying end.
A good book…a truly satisfying novel has a satisfying end. The loose ends are tied up. Or at least addressed. And in a truly good “stand alone” novel "good" wins out over "evil." Always.
That is pretty much Story Structure in a nutshell.
You’ll hear speakers and mentors talk about story structure. They’ll offer you a template similar to this one complete with diagrams of story arcs. I’ve looked at books that told me to craft my story with “X” number of words dedicated to the first third of the book or to create a physical map for my story. But if you do all of those things you are basically using the story structure I talk about here. Where did I get it?
Well, I’ve heard all my life that answers to every question you have can be found in the Bible.
And sure enough, I discovered story structure in the Bible.
I was reading the NIV translation. I often journal my reflections as I read my Bible. This “story structure” comes from the book of Romans. You’ll find the full text in chapter five, starting with verse three. Here’s what I wrote in my journal that morning:
“… ‘suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us.’ That’s it. That’s story structure by THE book.”
Suffering. Perseverance. Character. Hope.
“And hope does not disappoint.”
Who knew the Apostle Paul would turn out to be my writing coach?