How to create an engaging story
It is always a mind field for a writer when they need to plan a plot to a story. So if it is like this for a writer, how do you think your child feels when they have to plan a plot for a story?
Usually, they are thinking, where do I start?
There needs to be a clear structure that helps them to plan their story accordingly, so they can include all the main ingredients needed to make their plot more engaging to the reader.
What is a Plot?
A plot is clearly the foundation of the story. It is like the frame or base of a house, and all the other ingredients are the bricks that slowly builds the story.
Now, what does a typical plot look like?
This is one of the best resources I have used with my students in the past. It sums up clearly, the main ingredients that are needed in a plot.
The Main Ingredients in a Plot
At the beginning of your story you should always use the 5 Ws:
- Who are the characters?
- When does it take place? E.g date, time.
- Where is the setting/location?
- What is the conflict - Brief in the beginning, so they can build it up in the latter stages of the story.
The other W can be included later in the story
- Why is the conflict taking place.
Ways to structure your opening:
Start with a scene that takes your audience forward or backward in the time period of the story. This is great for stories that are highlighting past conflicts, memories, or even time travel.
Dialogue You can use this as a way to engage the reader with an important line of dialogue from one of the characters.
Shock Interest your reader by adding something that would get their attention. E.g A loud bang! or crash!
Seduction This is a slow and gradual approach that can leave suspense for the reader and make them wonder what is going to happen next.
In media res Get into the story straight away, this will be led with the narration starting in the middle of the story. So you can start off with a description first, then a narrative voice comes after.
This is when your child wants the story to start and end in the same place. E.g the character wakes up from a dream in the opening and the ending of the story.
- The problem is clearly explained to the reader and now the character goes on a mission to solve it.
- Starting the action in a dramatic first scene is a really effective opener.
- This is where your child can hook the reader by creating a suspenseful action, where the problem or conflict of the story comes to a halt and takes an unexpected turn.
- The aim of this part is to get the reader invested in the story, so they want to know what is going to happen next.
- In my experience, this is where most students get writer's block and are unsure where to move forward in the story.
- This is where they need to think about all the possible actions that could happen after the climax.
- This is where your child would be on a roll and can't stop writing. They can decide if they want the story to have a clear ending, or if they want to leave it as a cliffhanger.
- A resolution is a clear definitive ending (happy or sad).
- A cliffhanger leaves a sense of mystery of what is going to happen next. Which is great for thrillers, horrors, or adventure stories.
Things to remember when writing your story
Make it clear
Now that you have a clear plot, your child needs to make sure they keep the reader invested until the end. So having a clear narrative voice is always a good way to ensure your ideas link well together.
If your child's story has a sense of mystery, that is fine, as long as the ideas are consistent, and the reader can understand what is going on.
Have a distinctive voice
- As I mentioned about narrative voice if your child decides to use the first-person narrative, it needs to have a clear opening of this voice from the very beginning of the story. so make sure their first words create an impression and evoke a sense of the person saying them.
- Writers that are exceptional at this are Stephen King, Zadie Smith, Charles Dickens, and many others.
Make It Dynamic
- Your child can drop the reader straight into the scene if they prefer the story to be more fast-paced.
- Even if it is slow at first, have enough descriptive language to keep them interested. Sensory language (hear, smell, see, taste, touch) is great to use to really help the reader to understand the setting and mood of the atmosphere.
To conclude, always remind your child to add the following for their plot and writing:
The main ingredients for a plot
Make it clear, have a distinctive voice, and make it dynamic!!