On the noteboard above my desk I have a couple of sheets of A4 where I’ve scribbled down reminders to myself. Reminders to stop me being very, very stupid and making basic mistakes with my writing. One of them is a pretty standard diagram about a three act structure. One is Dan Harmon’s 8 point circular structure (which I’d recommend as it seems to work very well. I used it on Low Life: The Deal and I was very happy with how that came out) and the other is a bunch of points I’ve noted over the years as being pretty vital. I’ve blown these up to a point size that means I CANNOT miss seeing them when I sit down in the morning. Even with my rubbish eyesight and sleep-deprived early morning funk (NB – not the George Clinton kind).
So, I thought I”d share. Because, you know, someone might be interested.
Also, I looked at my website and it looks like shit and I felt bad at never updating it. So there’s that. But I digress.
Anyway, some people may read these points and think they’re nonsense. Some may disagree with the order I have them in (and they are in a loose kind of order of importance, to an extent). That’s fair enough. Every writer has their own process. I read Stephen King’s excellent ‘On Writing’ and he said he doesn’t know what the theme of his stories are until he’s near the end. I can’t work like that, and he’s sold one or two more books than me, certainly. But these are my ‘idiot proof’ points that I try to follow when I’m starting any story, whether it be an ongoing series or a one-off five pager. And one or two of them were said to me by wiser heads than I, so there may be something in them.
- What is the theme? Don’t veer from it. Concentrate on it.
- The theme will tell you what the third act resolution should be. Either it proves the theme correct or it disproves it.
- What does the protagonist want?
- What is stopping him/her getting it?
- What are the cool set pieces?
- How visual is this? And whatever the visuals are, how can we make them bigger?
- Keep it simple, stupid.
- What do these characters do that is unique?
- Push them to their limits. Not just physically. Put their souls on the line.
- How does this story relate to you on a personal level?
- Heart? Soul?
Now, does anyone know how to make a website look not rubbish?