2) Change and discovery

An effective story is a dramatic unit made of dramatic parts (scenes).  It is in well-constructed scenes that characters with strong desires face significant conflicts.  As the story progresses, the character’s action and resolution of the conflicts bring a change in how the character thinks.  In the best stories, the reader’s thinking is changed (reversal) or he or she discovers something (recognition) by the logical progression of characters through scenes.

3) Achieving goals

A goal for the story is essential.  When authors clearly know what they want to achieve with a story, writing is more targeted for the reader’s understanding and readers enjoy the story more.  The goal may change many times during the writing of a story.  That is part of the healthy process of writing.

4) Instilling creativity

As previously noted, many authors reject structuring their stories before writing, arguing that discovering the story line as they progress is the best way to stimulate their creative processes.  But use of structure does not diminish creativity.  In fact, thinking of the structure of the story before and during writing creates alternatives that can contribute significant, believable events to the story.

5) Realistic approach to writing

The challenge is to find the story, imagine it in images and scenes, and then write.  Remember: Great stories are not found by wandering through the writing process describing event after event as it comes to mind and commenting on how characters feel.

6) Avoid elevated prose

Failure to structure is almost always replaced by ineffectively elevating the prose.  Elevated prose downplays action and drama as the source of reader satisfaction and involvement.

In essence, in great stories, prose is not the endpoint.

B.  Outline

An outline is a list of main-point story elements that organizes scenes; establishes timelines; tracks characters; superimposes emotional arcs in the story; embeds conflict; and includes whatever else may improve a story by logical, dramatic presentation.  Outlines may be entirely a mental process, but a written outline is a valuable tool for authors to use.  An outline helps authors to understand and to reflect on the story being told.

A story is a series of well-defined fragments.  The quality of these fragments, for the reader, is improved if the fragment is developed within the context of the overall story, and not as an isolated story event or idea.  Every element created affects every other element.  As elements come together, theme and meaning emerge from the story.  An outline helps achieve coherence in the writing.