How about a few tips for writing that story that lives only in “your” mind?  The story is not true, the events didn’t happen, the people never lived, but we all know the story, the events, and the people.  If we write a story from the heart about people, who struggle with problems, who are always trying to succeed, but continuously falling short, we will be writing about real life.

We could choose a person we know and write their biography but if we do we are limited to only the facts.  We can’t deviate from the truth.

Fiction is different.  We make up characters that are mixtures of people we know.  Our first character is the protagonist—the star of our story.  The next character is the antagonist—the one who is a thorn in the side of the protagonist.  Then we add other characters to our story, not too many because they get too difficult to keep up with.

Let’s start with the protagonist and give him some good character traits but then we are required by the unwritten laws of good fiction writing to sprinkle in some bad traits to cause him to be both lovable and despicable.

We have to do the same thing for all of our other characters.  Remember, even the worst antagonist who is filled with evil traits has some good character traits.  He could be a murderer but he supports programs that help at risk kids.

In the next few lessons, I will pass along a few tricks to help you develop your story.

Lesson 4-Build a Library of Scene Details

Start building a library of scene details.

When you notice a situation you are in and say to yourself, “This could be part of a story,” write down some details or keep a recorder by to capture your thoughts.


  • I noticed the minute screams that were given off by some damp wood that I had just lit. Could remind you of something from the past.
  • I walked out to get my paper one morning before daylight and heard the light rumbling of a garage door from a neighbor who doesn’t ever acknowledge me. It could become part of a mysterious person in a story.
  • As I went up the Dolly Parton Bridge one morning the car rose through a cloud and emerged on top.  It was eerie looking down on the cotton white cloud under me.  It reminded me of flying high above the clouds in an airplane and then descending down through it.
  • As I descended through the clouds the fog surrounding the car again.  I wanted to slow down or stop but images of that 18-wheeler I just passed loomed in my mind.  What a relief for the fog to melt away as I continued across the lower bridges of the delta and I was again above the clouds.  The barren treetops pierced the clouds and made it clear this was different than clouds at 10,000 feet.
  • The fog lay between the trees and covered the rivers that I know are there.  Fog, London Fog, is what it reminded me of.
  • The sun streamed through the leafless tree branches breaking the haze of the fog like a smoke filled wood from a smoldering fire.  The sun breaking through occasionally and warming the bare spots.

I could go on but you get the idea.  Start a notebook to hold these details, break it into three sections.  I will tell you what to keep in the other two sections in the next two lessons.

Thanks for reading my thoughts!

by Wayne Brady 7/28/2012

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