My B2B Marketing Book

  • The Witness
    The Witness
    by Nora Roberts
  • Epic Content Marketing: How to Tell a Different Story, Break through the Clutter, and Win More Customers by Marketing Less
    Epic Content Marketing: How to Tell a Different Story, Break through the Clutter, and Win More Customers by Marketing Less
    by Joe Pulizzi

Developing a Story

For me, a story starts with an idea. I see something that looks interesting to me and start to mull it over. During this stage I'm trying to look at it from a variety of different angles and find out if there's enough there to warrant going any further. Does it hold my interest in a big enough way to keep my in the chair with it for 400 pages?

Better yet, do I think it willhold yours?

For example, I read an article in the newspaper a while back about the school that was under siege inRussia and the mother who had to choose only one of her children, and she chose her son, leaving her daughter with the terrorists. Well, what a crappy choice to have to make. But anyways, lest I get off track, I began to wonder what would happen to that little girl.

From here on, I begin to ponder the following:

Who will she grow up to be?

For my stories, she'd need to be at least an adult young woman, and she was six when her mother left her there. Definitely old enough to know what's going on, so there's all this rich backstory to create about what forms her opinions, beliefs, where she is today and how she got there.

What does she want?

Um, there are so many ways to go. This could be a suspense with her out for revenge against terrorists who ruined her life. Maybe a save-the-world storyor asecret agent/spy story. It could be a story about family angst and how much the mother and daughter go through to try and restore a relationship marred by so much trauma. It could be a story about a ruthless, successful, take-no-prisoners corporate woman who's built an empire from all that rage boiling inside. Well, okay, you get the point. There are many ways this could play out.

So far though, she might want revenge, the restoration of love with her mother, or power and money so she'll never feel helpless again. Lots of possibilities.

Why does she want it?

This goes to motivation. One she may not know consciously but drives her more than the external stated need she may have for things like world peace,orpower, and the means to control her environment.

What or who is standing in her way?

This is conflict. The stickiest of all wickets at times. Not only do I need the big story conflict, but I also need inner conflicts that pop up along the way. Things that will test her morals, ethics, and convictions in somemanner and stop her from getting what she wants. At least long enough to build her arc throughout the story to show growth and development.

If I look at the suspense angle, then Imightask myself the following:

How would she deal with having to kill peopleas sheworksto stop the terrorists? What if the terrorists were trying to kill her? What if the people she trusts the most betray her? What if her family is put in jeopardy? Would she care? How much? Enough to change course or enough to find a way around it?

Who is going to help her get what she wants?

In my stories, there's always a romance, so that would probably mean that the hero would be the one helping her achieve her goals. Who is he? They'll have to be contrasting, yet complement each other enough to build a romantic relationship. The two of them will also need to be at least equals, each bringing something of value to the story. But thestory is hers, so his will need to be intertwined with hers in a way thatdoesn't overshadow our heroine's journey.Oh, andyes, I'll have to answer all these questions for my hero too, who will need his own arc for the story.

Where will she end up?

This is usually the point at which I throw my hands up in the air and say, "Who knows?" Generally I'll have an idea of where I want her to end up, but there's no telling if that'll actually happen until I write the story.

That's what makeswriting so much fun. Finding out.