When teaching creative writing, to school students and to adults, Lois Elsden suggested various things to think about when starting a story; helpfully, these all began with the letter ‘p’. Decisions have to be made when you’re writing, so think of the peas… er, ‘p‘s’:
- Decide on the story line or action or series of events you are going to write about, and the order in which they are to be written (you can use flashbacks and other devices to make your story more interesting, intriguing or unusual) (think plot)
- Decide on your characters, not too many of them in a short story; imagine what they are like and what they look like and how each fit into the pattern of events. Are the characters in some sort of relationship with each other? (think people)
- Decide on who is telling the story, you, a single character, several characters, a detached observer (Think point of view – think POV)
- Decide why they are telling the story; why is the story being told, the reason (think purpose)
- Decide where your events are taking place in terms of a physical setting and in terms of when the action happened. (think place)
- Decide what events take place to carry the story and your readers along. (think pace)
Remember the Six P’s
- Decide on your opening. Is there a description to set the scene? Are there characters, is there some action? Is it a conversation? You need to hook your readers.
- Is there a formula which will enable the reader to understand what sort of story it is, e.g., ‘Once upon a time…’
- Decide on an ending which will satisfy your readers and tie up all the loose ends.
- Decide on bit in-between, the middle, what happens between the beginning, and the end.
You don’t have to make all these decisions all at once before you begin to write; you can start with people and suddenly they are in a place – geographically and temporally, they are doing something, something happens… Write it as you like, but be aware of the Six P’s, especially when you’re working on it later.
©Lois Elsden 2016
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