Building the Story by Suzanne D. Williams

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Writing a story is like running a race, every step you take builds on the one before it. Your first scene dictates what’s in your second, your second scene what’s in your third. Similarly, your chapters build upon each other. Chapter Two’s content is like the second mile of the race. You had to run the first in order to be at the second.

Think of it also like a wall. You can’t build from the top down, but must build from the bottom up. The foundation must be solid in order for the top to remain strong. However, though the bottom bricks are the same size and constitution as the top, they do not replace the top. You can’t pull out the bottom and switch it without the wall collapsing.

Okay, now move on to planting peas. My grandfather was a farmer and spent hours planting in the spring. He didn’t start in the center of the row, but on one end. And he didn’t plant all his peas in the same hole. No, instead, he released them one at a time.

Do this with the information in your story as well. You don’t want to dump it all out in Chapter One, but reveal it at even intervals – one bit at the end of Chapter One, another at the end of Chapter Two, and so on. Plus, the revelation in Chapter Two is the result of what happened in Chapter One. You’re still building.

You get the idea yet?

It isn’t a handful of miscellaneous scenes that you somehow assembled, but deliberate choices that with each word, leads the reader’s mind backward to what came before, and forward to what might happen.

Which leads me to the hook. This is what happens at the end of each scene that makes the reader need to keep going. I always ask myself, “What’s the weirdest thing that could happen right now?”

Throw out the box you’ve put our story in and look for the unconventional. Then, when you find it, build on it for the rest of the story. But don’t be repetitive. You’re running a race, remember? You aren’t on a treadmill. Any runner would tell you there’s a huge difference. Once your point is made, whether it’s a character trait or a turn in the plot, hang onto it, but mix it in with what comes next.

In the end, you’ll have a wonderful creation. Like eating cake, where the first bite was divine, but the last one … that’s heaven.

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“Loved it!!! Something that can happen to anyone.” ~ Reviewer

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Suzanne WilliamsBest-selling author, Suzanne D. Williams, is a native Floridian, wife, mother, and photographer. She is the author of both nonfiction and fiction books. She writes devotionals and instructional articles for various blogs. She also does graphic design for self-publishing authors. She is co-founder of THE EDGE.

To learn more about what she’s doing and check out her extensive catalog of stories, visit or link with her on Facebook at or on Twitter at

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