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I have been trying for some time to write a fictional story based on personal accounts, but it never comes out how I want it.  Anything I do always gets tossed.  I was wondering if you could give me some tips on how to properly organize my thoughts into a wonderful tale.  Also, should I be ashamed of what I am writing if it might be controversial?  It seems that your expertise is everything I am lacking at this point in time.

Hello, Shannon!

Most fiction is based on fact.  However, fact on its own may lack the drama and conflict that fine fiction requires.  First understand that all fiction is written from a foundation of "story," WHAT happens, and "plot," HOW it happens.

Step one in composing your story is to write a story concept.  This is a single paragraph that tells your story.  You can find story concept examples by reading the backs of video or DVD boxes, or the book flaps on fly-covers.

Step two is to expand your story concept into a story treatment.  Here you will use a few pages and go into a bit more detail about the environment and characters.

Step three will be an "action-only" story outline.  Outline your story scene by scene without dialogue.  Use only action.  This step forces you to construct a plot that will move your story forward.

Step four will be to write a one page character sketch for each of your characters.

Step five will be to get down to the business of writing your story!  By now, you have a strong idea of your concept, your story, your plot, and your characters.

Remember that your story requires conflict, theme, and subtext.  But those are different questions you have not yet raised.

I hope this helps you to begin to better organize your thoughts and the elements you will need to compose your story.

As to your being ashamed of what you write if it is controversial; life is a controversial proposition if you are living it fully.  Use your instincts, you'll be fine.

My best,
Youngbear Roth

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M.L. 'Max' Roth, Executive Editor


My specialist area is literary and philosophical fiction. I am pleased to answer all queries regarding story, plot, character arc and development, environment, structure, theme, subtext, and conflict.


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Numerous client references may be found at: under 'References'. Their contact information is available on request.

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