Story ideas: How to hone the idea - article

So you've got a great idea for a new story, but you find yourself needing a little help. You need to take your idea, define its central theme, and develop it into a full-fledged book. To do so, hone your idea into a story line with a plot that can serve as a scaffold for writing your book.
Various writing tools are available to help you with this “honing” process. Synopsis writing, mind mapping, and defining the key parts of your story line are all useful tools.

Some writers start with a story synopsis because it’s an easy way to get your basic story idea down in a few short paragraphs. Your synopsis should briefly set out what the story is about, but without too much detail. The result will resemble the text on a book’s back cover or the back of a DVD cover. From this basic idea, the whole story can develop. You can then expand and fill in the gaps until you have an entire, complete story.

To expand your basic idea, try the technique known as “mind mapping.” Mind mapping is a technique used to organize your brainstorming ideas. Usually the author starts out with a circle in the center of a blank page. In the middle of that circle, he writes his main idea or initial thought. Then the author branches off. He draws other circles around the first one, filling them in with related ideas or subplots. He continues expanding on each subsidiary idea, and then on ideas subsidiary to the first sub-idea, until he has everything down on what looks like a map. Online versions and portable “apps” allow you to produce mind maps digitally. Once you have completed your mapping, you can move on to the next step.
Look at the bare-bones outline of a story. There are eight basic parts to any story:

1. The beginning of the action or the everyday setting.
2. The event or situation that prompts the story.
3. The adventure and the action. (Whether they’re positive or negative is up to you.)
4. The details or clarifications that make the adventure interesting. (Also that make up most of the middle of the story.)
5. The big decision or the point in the story where the main character has to take a stand.
6. The climax or the highest peak of tension in your story, after which everything winds down.
7. A change or the results of the climax are revealed to the main character.
8. The conclusion or the end of the story line. Generally, at this point, every character has been somehow transformed.

One last tip: Begin by writing your ending. Your ending will give you something to work towards while you write the story. Moreover, you will avoid working through everything needed for a great tale, only to have your ending fizzle in comparison. Instead of settling in, build up to your finale.

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