A Story Worthy Problem

#writetip How do you know if you have a story worthy problem and why do you want one?

I guess it depends on whether you are writing short stories or novels. I write novels, but love to read short stories. Let’s say a novel is somewhere between 70,000 and 100,000 words. Some can be more and some less.

For a reader to want to spend their time reading 70,000 words, there has to be a problem they are interested in and it has to be big enough to write that many words about.

Your main character needs to strive for something of they are just sitting around being boring. They need to come up against obstacles.

My idea is that you know you have a story worthy problem if you find yourself at 70,000 words (ish) and are still writing about it. If you run out of things to say, it might not be the story worthy.


4 thoughts on “A Story Worthy Problem

  1. I have the perfect way to decide. I read Larry Brooks’ ‘Story Engineering’ recently and I’ve been doing a successful ‘Best advice I’ve learned’ series based on his book. He lists idea, concept and premise.

    Forgive me for pasting directly from my blog, but here’s how you tell. If you can’t think up a premise, then you don’t have a story.

    1. An IDEA is to write a love story in a dystopian world.
    2. A CONCEPT is to say that the story in the dystopian world follows a chase around the globe to understand why love is forbidden and why people are sacrificed if caught.
    3. A PREMISE is to say that a boy who chases a girl could break the love curse if she trusts that he has figured out a way for them to be together, and thus change love for all of humankind.

    A concept brings in conflict to the idea, and the premise brings in a character to the concept. Sha-bang!

    Here’s the link if you are interested: http://rebeccaberto.wordpress.com/2011/12/28/the-best-advice-ive-learned-on-mastering-a-concept-worthy-of-a-story/. I’ve done a few more since I posted this article.


  2. However, a short story at 2,000 words is still a story, isn’t it?

    I recently wrote my first real short story. I’ve never done a short before, because my plots always end up “Big”.

    What I learned, is that it does not have to be LONG to have a beginning, middle, and end. You can get all the elements into a short just as easily.

    Well, easily might not be the right word. It’s easier to think of plots that are long (for me at least) Shorts just don’t take as long to write.

    Am I rambling?


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