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One thing sure to say was that my life as a kid was pretty imaginative, and heavily influenced by the books I read. And, I read them all day, everyday. The more you read, the more you start thinking. And, somewhere inside you a story is born. Then another, and another, and before you know you have idea after idea, making you struggle with choosing one to actually continue writing with. That’s what happened to me at least.
I have so many 20-40 page writings on ideas of stories that I began with but never completed. They didn’t make the cut. But, what makes an idea for a story win?
There are two aspects here: a story, and a plot. One without the other is pretty much useless, and the idea will not materialize. The ‘story’ refers to the strong need of something by your protagonist character that will move the story forward. And, the ‘plot’ refers to the protagonist wanting something.
So, the idea must have a theme that can be expressed in one word (like Realization, Revenge, Family, etc.) with the Hero wanting something, needing something, and having a flaw that he/she would learn to overcome through the story. Then there’s a villain, who can take advantage of the Hero’s flaw. And, there’s a setting, timeline, climax, action, low point, and triumph. That’s what will make your story.
Not only are these important factors that will help in an idea actually materializing, these loglines and general themes help in a more structured way to present a story. However, everybody has their own way. Whatever way one writes, there are some simple good traits to a great story:
- The central idea is simple and clear.
- All the main characters are introduced within the first-third of the the book.
- All the characters have a role/purpose, and have relevance in the story.
- All the characters have an ending, just like they had an entry. No character is left hanging without the readers understanding why they vanished, and what happened to them.
- There are strong sub-themes/sub-plots in the form of mini goals that the characters want to achieve through the story. These take the story forward smoothly, giving valuable insight into the characters.
These are some of the basic elements that I’ve always found in stories which I have thought to be brilliant. And, while writing and developing my ideas, I always make sure I give meaning to what I bring on, be it themes or characters. That’s how an idea wins.
All the stories that are lying incomplete with me are either because I had a story without a plot, or a plot without a story. One day, maybe, I’ll get to finishing them up!
But hey, I’m already teeming with new ideas! What about you?