When I wrote there are no set rules on how to write a story it might have caused some misunderstanding. What I meant there are no rules on how to write, especially when one writes just for entertainment, but there are certainly rules how to use the medium of writing, namely the spelling of words, the structuring of a sentence, and the correct words for what you want to say. You can’t make up your own words. Well, I guess that’s not quite true, either. When you write SciFi/Fantasy you can actually create new words for your story, but you still have to explain what they mean. Those words will, as a rule, never make it into the dictionary.
There are exceptions. In 1961 the famous Science Fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein created the word ‘Grok’ for his novel ‘Stranger in a Strange Land’. It is a Martian word that could not be identified in Earthling terms. If you want to learn more about the word ‘Grok’ do a search for Robert A. Heinlein. It will come up. The word ‘Grok’ is one of the words that made it into the dictionary.
So it is possible to create a new word the world may adopt, but it doesn’t happen often.
What I really wanted to say about the ‘no rules’ is the way you write your story. You can start at the beginning, then write the ending, and then fill in the middle. You can write the last scene first and then write the story. Or you can just start at the beginning and keep on writing until the end.
You can create all your characters first, write about their life or you start with one character and build from there. If you have all your characters already in place, you can draw from their life experiences as you write the story. The story can already be written as an outline, and you just flesh it in.
For me, that doesn’t work. My characters develop as the story moves on. I create the characters as they are needed. My characters come alive when my protagonist meets them. That’s when they are born. Once they exist, then I flesh them out with background and so on. But, like I said, no rules. That’s just the way I do it...most of the time. Sometimes I may change the way I write my story. It all depends what I’m writing.
I’ve noticed a lot of TV shows and movies start with an action scene. Some of those scenes don’t even have anything to do with the actual story. They are just there to introduce the main character and to get the viewer hooked. Some books may start out the same way. It seems something so many writers have adopted. That’s one of the so-called rules I meant that you don’t need to follow. Just because everyone does it, doesn’t mean you have to.
I think it is pretty sad if you have to get the interest of viewers or readers with some wild car chase, a murder, or some rescue scene. I don’t need that when I read a book. Sometimes it is nice to have the characters introduced by telling us who they are, or have a description of the strange and exotic world we’ll be visiting for a few hours.
Even the ending doesn’t have to be some earthshaking revelation. I have to admit, I am fond of those, but that’s just my own little fetish. My two-volume novel ‘Seeds of Chaos’ ends with a, I hope, revelation that was not expected. It was meant to leave the reader with something to ponder.
However, like I said, those endings are not required. As long as it is explained who committed the murder that is already okay. Of course, the ending shouldn’t be lame, either. The reader should not leave the story feeling let-down. People like happy endings, but not every story needs to end with the happy couple riding into the sunset.
More next time