Do I believe stories are dramatic events for a reader to experience (or written words for the reader to interpret)?

Fictional stories entertain and enlighten through drama; drama is conflict, action, and resolution.  Readers do not simply observe the story; they become involved in it.  The writer’s challenge is to engage the reader from story beginning to story end, not to describe events.  Successful writers actually provide only enough information on the page to stimulate the story in the reader’s mind.  It is one of the wonders of reading great fictional stories that the story interpretation is unique to each reader, based on that reader’s intelligence, experience and creativity.

Do I believe stories are structures whose unity is discovered as reading progresses (or that they are meandering observations described step by step)?

Authors who start a character on a plot line to see what their characters will do have limited themselves for creating a story.  Stories are carefully constructed, and then present details that are chosen to create images and ideas in the minds of the reader.  Details are not chosen just to record them.  Stories can be thought of as jigsaw puzzles where the author supplies essential, clearly detailed pieces that are complete, accurate, interesting and dramatic, and the reader fills in the rest.

Authors who insist that a nonstructured way is best for them—and then prefer to write rather than structure-and-write—miss the potential of reader enjoyment that is made possible by a well-constructed fictional story.

Proper attitude is essential: Write a story as a unit, not as loosely associated ideas discovered moment by moment.

Part I

Structuring the Story

A.  Know the story before writing

1) Conflict

An author is not simply presenting scenes and events by describing an imagined reality.  Authors create stories by imagining characters and what they do in a story in a dramatic way.  Historically, drama requires conflict, action and resolution, and drama provides the essence of literary fiction.  The conflict can be physical, mental or emotional.  The action is presented by placing the reader in the scene or by narrative telling, and resolution involves a change in the character, either a reversal of some thought or trait in the character or the character’s recognition of something not understood before.  It is in drama that the reader becomes involved and where, through the actions of the characters, readers sympathize with the characters.