PART I CHAPTER ONE
WIDE BRUSH STROKES
“You should not paint the chair,
but only what someone has felt about it.”
1. Use a wide brush to paint your beginning story. What genre will you write in?
2. What are the requirements, the rules of that genre?
3. What is your story goal, what is your story about?
4. What is your lead character’s goal
“I paint objects as I think them,Not as I see them.”
When you begin or contemplate starting to write a piece of work, you first need to
decide on the genre you will write in. A long with that you will need to decide what the
rules of that particular genre are. If you choose a genre that you love to read, you will
already know the reader expectations of this type of writing. You will have seen the
rules in action without necessarily paying attention to them. They are part of the
reason you enjoy the genre you love to read.
Ask yourself, do you prefer Romance over Science Fiction, do you like a cozy mystery or
a hardboiled PI? If you choose Romance what sub genre? There is a sub-genre for
every type of writing you choose. Narrow down your choices by choosing one of them.
See the chart on the following pages to help you decide.
You have come up with an idea. Decide why you want to tell this particular story. Are
you a medical professional and you have a message for your readers? Are you a
counselor at a domestic abuse center, an animal rescue worker, or do you just hope to
entertain your reader with a good story? What is your reason, what do you want to tell
your reader about. What emotion are you hoping to instill in your reader? Joy,
sadness, injustice, love, harmony, curiosity, there are a myriad of emotions you could
be addressing. What do you hope they’ll feel when the finish your book? Will they feel
good with your happily ever after – or happy for now, will they think I should have
seen that coming, when they find the guilty party in your mystery, will they
immediately look for your next release because of how you made them feel? The point
is, what is your reason, your motivation for writing this story in the first place? You
must be intrigued enough with your idea to be able to write, write, write and re-write
for months on this same idea. Can you?
You might ask why do I need t have a reason. You need a compass, a gauge, some way
of measuring if your story is on course. Is it doing what you hoped it would in the way
that’s suitable, follows the rules of your chosen genre?
To reiterate, your beginning should broadly define setting, mood, and characters.
It is necessary to decide at this point if your idea is one that you can carry for a 500 to
1,000 word article, a 5,000-to 10,000 word short story, or a 50,000 to 150,000 word
novel. Perhaps it’s a poem or flash fiction. Test your idea to see how broad your brush
stroke can be.
I was always guilty of trying to cover too much in my term papers. That is the reason
most professors will ask for a thesis statement before you get the go ahead to write
that term paper. For you, that will be your story goal. What are you going to tell your
An example of a story used quite frequently to illustrate the idea of theme/story idea
is: I will paraphrase here; the king died and then the queen died. Is not a story idea
that can go anywhere. It can’t carry the weight of a whole novel or a story of any length
really. But, the kind died and then after much tribulation and a broken heart, the
queen died. Now, you have room to explore the relationship, the pain of losing a long
loved partner. How he died, was there foul play, did the queen cause his death,
purposely or inadvertently. Why couldn’t she live without him? Many woman live long
and productive lives after their husbands die. Why didn’t the queen. Do you see the
You Try Exercise:
1. Pick a genre you will write in, as well as the sub category for that genre. For
instance is it going to be a mystery-then is it going to be cozy or a police procedural,
true crime or one of the other nineteen subdivisions of this genre
2. What length will your story be? Short story, novel, novella, flash fiction?
3. Decide on a story goal – what is your story about? How do you envision the
ending? If you start with the end in mind your compass will always point toward true
north. Ask yourself, why do you want to write this particular story?
4. Finally, choose a lead character and give him or her a strong goal. What will be
his/her motivation, why does s/he want this?
5. How many view point characters will you have? Protagonist (essential) his/her
main story and also a subplot. Will you have a confidant? An antagonist? A romantic
interest? Any other necessary view point characters?