Tag Archives | starting a story

How I Write: Dissecting frogs (or starting a new story)

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And what a timely subject for me. (Stars are aligning as I write.)

Sorry, I’m not going to give you in-depth details on what I normally do. I can say that so far, I’ve done the usual – the idea, researching, plotting, outlining.

But I’m not starting to write. I refuse to jump into a new story without bringing new skills to it. I want to figure out how I can improve.

My weakness? Structure and pacing (And yes, I’ve read great craft books, but, somehow, that doesn’t always translate.)

So, this time around, I’m choosing middle grade stories and dissecting them like a seventh grader would a frog in science class.


How to dissect a story:

  • Pull out your scalpel, and throw your head back for your best maniacal laugh.
  • Jot down what happens in each chapter as you read.
  • After reading, break the story into: Act I, Act II, Act II climax (big twist), Act III, story climax, resolution.
  • Record major plot points or clues.
  • Record the logline (found in the front of the book).
  • Record what you did and didn’t like about it.
  • Wipe the bloody ink on your lab coat and toss in the wash.

Four books have passed across my laboratory table. The next two are waiting nervously in a spare room. I could tell you the amazing things I’ve learned but it probably won’t do you any good. You will learn best hands-on.

Check out Alexandra Sokoloff for the break down of story structure. After all, I’m following her suggestion.

So, how do you start a new story?

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