Last week I started a new challenge.
I love writing. This is obvious, haha. And I’m constantly working to improve my storytelling skills by both reading and writing. I know the parts needed for a story: beginning, middle, end; introduction, rising action, climax, denouement. It’s not so difficult to learn the parts of a story rationally, to have these things in one’s mind. But it’s much more difficult to actually produce a good story.
I liken it to singing. If you hear a song you like and try to reproduce it yourself by singing it, the results are often not a very good replica of the song, even though you can hear it in your mind. We know what we need to do, what the end result should be, but putting that into practice to get there is often very difficult.
So I was thinking to myself that I know in my brain what a story should be, all the parts that are needed, but do I know it in my hands? Can I actually produce a good story with all the necessary parts? It’s in my head, but is it in my body?
The challenge I started is a 30-day, 100-word story challenge, which I’m calling The BME Challenge for Beginning, Middle, End. Every day for 30 days I’m writing a 100-word story as fast as I can, spending just a few minutes on it. The purpose is to get used to writing a story with a beginning, middle, and end via quick repetition. I want my hands to know what to do. I want to internalize the parts of a story.
We think we know how to write, how to tell a story, and then are often perplexed about why our work in progress is not turning out just so. On the first day of my self-imposed challenge I learned the reason. My 100-word story had a beginning, a middle, but no end. I introduced a character, a setting, a simple problem, but ran out of space before I got to a solution. It’s also an exercise in writing concisely, but the main point is to cover a full narrative arc. I had trouble thinking of a solution to my character’s problem. I’d spent too many words on the introduction and not enough on the problem and resolution.
At the end of the challenge I’ll post a recap and detail the lessons learned.