Posted in basics, developing stories, starting point

Developing stories – the basics!

startWhen I say, the basics – then this simple format is just that.

The playwright and film-maker, David Mamet, once remarked that,

“Stories happen because somebody wants something and has trouble getting it.”

  • The “Somebody”… gives us a character. Not just a name, but a person in a specific place, at a specific time, living a specific life.
  • The “Wants Something”… gives us a goal, the ‘story question’ that will be what this story is ‘about’.

Sometimes this is an opportunity to do something that the character wants: to travel, to climb a mountain, to woo the person of their dreams, and so on.

And sometimes it’s a dilemma forced onto the character: to flee the alien invasion, escape the stalker or survive a Tsunami.

And it might be largely internal, for example in a story built around a character battling grief or injustice.

  • And “Has Trouble Getting It”… gives us the conflict. It provides obstacles that the character must overcome to achieve their goal. These obstacles will ask difficult questions, and the response will come to change and define the character.

These three elements together are the makings of a basic storyline. But there’s no stopping there. Now you have to build it up from the ground, work out what makes this story great and ask yourself:

What’s interesting, exciting, unusual, compelling, inspiring, different about it?

Easy, eh? Now the basics are not quite so basic, are they?

But it’s a starting point.pablo (6)

Go now.

It’s time to add the ‘great’ and write that story!



Dreams can come true and mine was to live in Spain forever and ever ....  Well, after studying languages many years ago I became totally enamoured with all things Spanish, I finally made the big move for a more 'relaxed' lifestyle in 2003.  Since then, I have been teaching Spanish to Ex-pats and translating. Also, I trained as a Community Manager (Social Media) so that I have a genuine excuse to be on Facebook, Twitter and the Internet for hours on end, but then I started to write. My first attempt was for NaNo 2012 with 'The Nasrid Charm' (a story set in Spain and the Afterlife.) Like most first drafts, this is in need of serious revision and has been placed on the backburner, while I pursue my mystery stories. I'll get back to it - one day :) 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s