Our editor, Annabelle Carvell has embarked on a new journey in her own writing. Be part of this journey with her, and follow her updates on the Synaesthesia Blog! @AnnabelleCsyn
#1 Where do you even start?
I was lucky that I had an idea for a story before I had the idea of writing it as a novella. My advice for where to start is this; find your idea (it needn't be a fully fledged idea) and then work out the arc of your story.
Right now, my novella has a shape. I know the beginning. I know the middle. I know the end.
I was sitting in a cafe in my home town with a friend from work fairly recently (she’s also a writer) for the first writing workshop I had done on my own writing in a very long time. I had sent her roughly three scenes of my story – these were the beginning, the middle, and a hint at the end... although, at this point, I didn’t know that this was the case.
We talked for hours (quite literally) about what I had written so far, and it was only through conversation with another writer that it clicked that I had the arc of my story right in front of me. It seems primitive, I know, to follow primary school teachings of how to write fiction, but really, finding your beginning, middle and end is what makes the process so much easier (at least it seems to be working for me so far).
I don’t want to get technical on you, but this diagram is literally how I envisaged my story once my friend and I had this revelation:
As soon as I realised I had a beginning, middle and end, my arc appeared instantly in my mind. Your arc will possibly look different from mine. Let me stress that this ‘middle’ is not the same as the climax for my arc. What is most interesting about this structure is that the ‘middle’ section instantly signified change. The rising action in my arc leads to the ‘middle’ where we reach the turning point, but not the climax. A diagram for climax in my tale would look much different, and probably not the smooth curve that you can see.
This arc shows me the pivotal moment where something changes in the tale to determine the direction of the rest of the story. For me, this is usually where the characters make a decision, or don’t make a decision – something that creates tension, that lets the reader know that something is going to happen, and has them tempted to flick through the pages to discover what that might be. My advice here would be to personalise the shape of your arc – it might be skewed to one side – but whatever it is, it has to make sense to you.
Most importantly, this arc signifies movement. That I have a story waiting to expand and develop.