Crafting a Story, Part 4

CC image by Bunches and Bits {Karina}

This is the final part in my series on crafting a story. If you missed the other three parts, check them out: 1, 2, 3. I know I’ve given you many theoretical concepts throughout this series, so I want to end on something a little more concrete, something to help you use all the theory to your advantage. Everything I suggest here is something I have done or plan on doing, so know that if you follow these, even if no one else does, you are not alone.

Keep track of the connections within your story. And I do mean to write them down. This will become more important the longer your story gets and the longer it takes for you to write it. If you want your craft to be intentional, then you need to intentionally keep a list of all the connections you’ve made or want to make. I would recommend doing a separate read through of your story just to create such a document, and get some of your writing buddies to help you if you want.

This is especially important for a series. To me, if you want to write a well-crafted book series, you must know enough about the last book to foreshadow it in the first book, whether it is two books long or ten. Think of a series like one really long story just broken up into smaller chunks. It stands to reason that you would treat it the same as any other story, just bigger. If it’s difficult enough to remember all of your connections in one book without writing them down, imagine doing so for a series. It’s okay to let paper remember things for you.

Read your story. I know. What a concept. But go back and just read it every now and then. If you read it often, your brain will be primed to craft it at any time. If you’re tired of reading your story, then read anything else and use it as an exercise to analyze the connections of that story.

Always analyze the craft of anything you read. Maybe use the list of connections in part three, examining how well the author accomplished each one. Are there areas that could have been improved? How would you have crafted the story if you were the author? Figure out if the author satisfied you as a reader and why. If there’s anything you truly admired, write it down and emulate it in your own story.

Don’t forget to write down what you learn about crafting. I can tell you with certainty that after writing this series, I feel more confident in my opinions. Writing has given me words to support the unnamed passion I had for this topic. Now, I am more likely to keep those opinions and actually put to use my own concepts. And if somehow I forget them, I can always go back and be reminded.

Don’t give up. You always hear this in blogs, and I know that it’s a tad cliché (and not nearly as concrete as I’d like). But really. If you want to write a well-crafted story, you can’t give up. Believe that you have a story worth telling because you do. Believe that you have a story worth reading, because you do. I know it can be daunting, especially when your time as a writer is limited. But it does get easier the more you do it.

Remember the seed metaphor I used in Part 1? Well, imagine that when you first start to write and craft a story, you’re basically growing it on its own. But, as you continue to craft, you learn to use a trellis, something steady that helps shape your story from the beginning, still leaving room for the story to surprise you and for pruning, but saving you a lot of rewriting heartache along the way.

I am a little sad to wrap up this series because I’ve learned a lot after determining to explore this topic. I feel like I could write a book on this, and maybe someday I will. In future blog posts, I may delve deeper into some points, and if there are any you all would like me to expand on, please feel free to tell me.

I want you to know that I understand that every story is different, and not every story needs to be crafted the same way. But before you disregard this entire series, try using the concepts I’ve covered. You have to know about all the connections before you can decide one won’t work for your story.

If I hadn’t already published the other three parts of this series, I would go back and change my definition of crafting, because I realize after writing that I left something out of it. So, in the true spirit of crafting itself, here is my revised definition: Crafting is the continual process of using every resource and skill you have to intentionally grow and shape a satisfying story. If nothing else sticks with you, I hope you remember intent because I don’t want you to be lazy and end up with a story that’s just okay. I want you to make decisions and build connections and wow the world with an incredible story, one that people talk about for ages.

Best of luck in crafting, everyone.

By Tracy Buckler