Let's keep it simple.

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Avatar of Joseph M. Gayoso
Joseph M. Gayoso on August 12, 2012 at 6:42 pm

I really want to write fantastic stories, but one thing I worry about is over-complicating the process. The last thing I need is to lose the focus and essence of my story, so does anyone have any advice on staying focus and collected when pondering the formation of a story?

Avatar of Mark DeMaria
Mark DeMaria on August 12, 2012 at 7:46 pm

I’ve found that writing sticky notes and putting them on my monitor helps.
Write, in caps, questions to yourself, then answer those questions in lower case below each question. I’ve used this for writing essays for school, but the principle applies.

For example:
WHO IS THE MAIN CHARACTER?
Jane Doe.
WHY IS SHE THE MAIN CHARACTER? WHY IS SHE RELEVANT TO THIS STORY YOU’RE TELLING?
Idk…because of reasons?

So if you essentially interrogate yourself and force yourself to answer questions out loud, you find holes in your plot and parts that might be irrelevant and lose focus.

Just a suggestion. Try it. :D

Avatar of O'Ryan McEntire
O'Ryan McEntire on August 12, 2012 at 7:55 pm

Those are great suggestions Mark!

another question you need to ask all the time is:
“does this need to be in my story?”

If not, then cut it. I don’t care how cool it is, if it doesn’t serve the story it only complicates it. If it serves a small important point and it is a complicated way to do so, find a simpler more straight forward way.

Sometimes starting your writing process with just an outline of all the most important plot points can give you a road map and keep you from getting lost along the way. But keep it as simple and streamlined as you can when creating your outline.

Avatar of Phlume
Phlume on August 13, 2012 at 1:09 am

When I’m working with my students developing characters and storylines I constantly remind them of two of the fundamental principals in story development: Character Arc, and The Hero’s Journey (or Monomyth).

Google em both, but in to simplify (thread topic afterall) the “Arc” is the character’s ability (or inability sometimes) to learn from their mistakes and experience a paradigm shift. One must overcome (or not, but at least acknowledge) certain obstacles and come out the other side “changed”

As for the Monomyth, it is a literary tool that helps one chart out a path for the “end game” including lessons learned and foes vanquished. Use it as an outline tool to develop the path your character will travel upon. The summary of the steps are: The World as the hero understands it at the start, The call to adventure and the refusal of the call, meeting of the mentor, Crossing the threshold, Tests and enemies, The approach, ordeal and reward, The road back, Ressurection, The answer (but perhaps it is the next call)

Avatar of Joseph M. Gayoso
Joseph M. Gayoso on August 13, 2012 at 12:07 pm

I like Mr. DeMaria’s suggestion about interrogating yourself. It makes sense to constantly run the ideas and plot points through what it is one’s focus through the story. Would it help to work with someone else when developing a story? And if so how many should be in a group like that?

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