by Josephine Kihiu

Writing a well-crafted story bears shocking similarity to building a structurally sound house or successfully running a race. Sure, writing doesn’t require heavy lifting or strenuous motion on your part but good writers, like builders, understand the importance of strong foundations. Good writers, like runners, appreciate the effectiveness of pacing.

 

The essence of a story provides its structural integrity. A well-thought out plot contains seven basic elements: change of fortune, problem of the story, complications, crisis, the threat climax,  and resolution.

 Establish the setting and introduce the world you intend on pulling your readers into. Then, propel the story forward by inciting change either in a character’s behavior or the character’s environment. Static conditions make for dull reads. Instead, provide an impetus for character growth and change. Setting it into motion and creating a clear problem fuels the story. If you’re writing a longer piece, ensure this prevailing problem is note an “easy fix” by adding a complication

Most importantly, you must bring a threatening presence to loom over the protagonist. The “threat” opposes the protagonist’s efforts to restore the lost balance. Just as Superman tests his strength against the cunning Lex Luther, the success and believability of a protagonist often hinges on the potency of the force he or she is fighting. 

The bulk of the story occurs during the crisis period. Lobbing complication after complication your main character’s way will make your reader urn the page. Struggles reveal character and the true nature of the protagonist under duress. Figuring ways out of tight corners, making mistakes under pressure, and overcoming onerous obstacles, give the character dimension.

 

 In the climax, you pit him or her against the overarching problem in a final encounter. Heighten the suspense and ramp up the drama in the culminating point in the story. The character either resolves the problem or is overcome by it. 

 

The excitement of the climax wanes. The character faced his or her threat, confronted the problem, and stands victorious or defeated The resolution deals with the repercussions of his or her actions. Wrap up the story and answer any lingering questions.

 

Ensure your writing follows the plot trajectory by making a physical structure. Draw a smooth arc to visualize the general path of your story (think of the top left quarter of a circle cut into fourths). The exposition is the lowest point, and tension mounts until the climax where it tapers off a little into the resolution. 

Once the story is structurally sound with a hearty essence, tug along the reader at an appropriate pace. You’ll lose the exciting effect of quick pacing if you sprint through the entire story with short sentences.  However, the reader won’t continue beyond the first few pages if you pull the story along at a deadening pace with long sentences and no tension. Balancing all these techniques will strengthen your story from foundation to finish, giving you something in common with good builders and runners.

 The young lady who wrote this is in high school. I liked this work and asked her permission to put it up on this blog. She is an extraordinary person and I have encouraged her to write for text books in the future. I think it’s time they became more interesting. Thanks for letting me share this Josephine.