How to Develop a Story

A Step-by-Step Rundown 

by Deborah Owen

There are many ways to form a story in your mind, but I have developed a unique approach that almost writes the story for you. Keeping in mind that every story must have plot, conflict, and resolution (not necessarily in that order) – I build the conflict first, then the resolution, and then the lead in. Notice I didn’t say the “plot”. The plot will develop by itself with this method.

Step 1

I’ll make up a story right now, as I type, to show you the process. I’m starting in the middle of my story because I’ll get into the action quicker, I’ll be able to identify most of the characters quickly, and the plot will develop more easily. FIRST, I’ll begin with the action scene that comes in the middle. I have no idea what it will be. I’ll think about high drama and tension and start there. (90 seconds of thinking.)

I will make this story about two abused children, a sister about aged 9 and her brother, aged 5. My mind begins with the action scene where an enraged stepfather chases them through a forest. They are hiding in a tiny washout in a bank that is covered by tree roots. They found it when the little boy sat down, leaned against the roots and fell into it.

The stepfather races through the forest, loudly calling their names. Gasping for air, he sits down and leans against the same tree, not three feet from where they are hiding. The children hold their breath in fear, lest he should fall into the hole and discover them.

Step 2

Okay. The anti-climax is done and my mind is thoroughly into the story. Next, I’ll create the ending. (Pause – thinking.) The children will come across a village they didn’t know existed. The people who live there dress in strange clothes, like a throwback in time.  They see a man who is a shoe cobbler, and a woman wearing wooden shoes that clack their way down the street.

The children run to the shoe cobbler and pant out their story to him. The cobbler alerts the townspeople that a huge, fierce man is coming and that he intends to harm the children. The townspeople hold a hurried meeting and decide to lay a trap to snare him.

The man walks into the trap, is caught, and put on trial. The people are merciless. In their eyes, there is no greater crime than abusing children. In such cases, they feel that ridding the earth of such a vile person is commendable – and they are commendable people. They hang him. The children live with the shoe cobbler and his wife, and they spend the rest of their natural lives with the townspeople.

Developing the lead will be easy now. What I want you to see is that jumping into a tragic scene mentally will naturally lead you to the number of characters you must have and who they are.

Step 3

Next, I have to answer some questions for the reader, such as, where is the mother all this time? My easy answer is that she’s dead. I can either state that or show it. Next, I have to tell my reader what happened to the natural father, and how the stepfather came into the picture. Or – I have a new idea. Maybe the real father is chasing them, but not to harm them. He’s trying to rescue them and their mother (who is no longer dead). Let’s suppose the mother married the stepfather because her first husband was supposedly killed in war, but now he’s back, trying to rescue her.

That puts the story into a happier mode, and it makes for a better plot. I’ll go with that. So the father is chasing them all this time, but the children think it is the stepfather, so they’re hiding in their little hole and waiting until he leaves. (Note the irony of having the father so near the children, and neither knows the other is there), and then they run to the village. The village people ensnare their father, thinking he is the stepfather who is trying to harm the children, but just before the hanging, the children see it is their father and he takes them home to their mother and they live happily ever after. Now I have to figure out what happened to the stepfather.

This is a very good way to build a story. I call it the DeBowen Story technique. Start writing in the middle of the climax scene, complete the story, and go back to write the introduction. Answer the questions of who, where, why, what, and how, and join it all together. It’s that simple.

The second ending I thought of at the last minute is better than the first because it has a twist, and because it has irony. Both of these are good writing tools.

There is something noteworthy here, and that is, you must always let the reader feel satisfied at the end of the story. That’s why you see very few stories with a sad ending. If you don’t satisfy your reader, they won’t want to read anything else you write.

This kind of story will run about 2,000 words. It will require two main characters (the real father and the oldest child). It will need at least three minor characters (the mother, little boy, and shoe cobbler). That’s an awful lot to cram into 2,000 words, but it can be done.

This DeBowen writing method will work for you every time. Try it. Let me know if you like the approach. And don’t forget to head over to www.CreativeWritingInstitute.com to find out about our creative writing courses! Don’t forget to “like” and rate us before you go, and thanks for stopping by! Deb

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10 thoughts on “How to Develop a Story

  1. Reblogged this on dingersonny and commented:
    Hi Deb,
    Is it a good idea to start most of your stories that way?
    Like the little red truck no sooner landed on the four-lane,
    The motor begin to run hot, and before to covered a mile,
    it actually stopped running, there is steam coming out from under the hood,
    So, is this what you’re teaching us here ?
    That is what I am writing,
    Thank you for listening,
    Sonny

    Like

  2. Hi Deb,
    I must say, I do rejoice as I read these great Writing Tips , with C W I
    Of all the Writing Tips on the internet, I favor your website, Deb,
    You seem to know what questions are on my mind each time a great tip is received,
    You seem to be right on Target of many types of writing,But, Of course, you’re the Expert,
    as Ezine Articles claims, and they are certainly right, Thank you Deb, for continuing
    such a great service in helping people like me and many others who would be struggling
    other wise,
    I enjoy writing now more than I would have ever thought possible for me,
    I am so happy I learned to use the computer and be online and to meet you.and C W I
    To learn to write better, I Rejoice !
    Happy Day
    Sonny

    Like

      1. Hi Deb, Well, I had the happening yesterday and the next day I received this Great Writing Tip from Deborah Owen@ C W I, with the subject of the car broke down, So, knowing you, I thought this is remarkable ! I became very excited about it , so I want to write on your space, I thought you would enjoy my review. Thank you, thank you, ms Deb, Sonny

        Like

  3. Wow ! what an amazeing talent you are ! Love ya DEB !! xooxo… you should write for TV shows and movies. You think fast on your feet and have an amazeing imagination !

    Like

  4. Hi Deb,
    As an amateur writer you surely have helped me understand the writing business
    better, and I have more interest in beginning my stories than I did before,

    Setting goals as I often did in my music, helps me find Prompts,
    By observing more of my surrounding, for story material,
    Thank you for ” Writing Tips ” and C w I Creating writing institute.com/deborahowen
    Happy Day
    Sonny

    Like

  5. I stumbled across this type of development. I’m not the first to use it, but I seem to be the first to name it. No grandchildren or dogs were named after me, so… this had to be it. lol Thanks for dropping by. Deb

    Like

    1. Hi Deb,
      Yes, I have seen/read the name before on your Writing Tips,
      Only, this time you gave an example, which is great,showing how it is done
      I’m writing Fantasy on that order, at you Writing Tip suggestion,
      It is slow writing, but you said in one tip, to take my time,
      As you did here, you stopped to think, which is great teaching!
      Wishing you a Great Day!
      A New Day with new Goals,
      Sonny

      Like

  6. Hi Deb,
    Oh boy! did I enjoy that one, I did not realize it but,
    I think I started my story the same way,( starting in the middle)
    You mentioned DeBowen ‘s name before,but now you show us,
    Great work ! ms Deb , Thank you, wonderful,
    So good hearing from you tonight,
    Blessings
    Sonny

    Like

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