Writing Tips by JT Scott
Author of the Sammy Rambles series about a boy and his dragon.
This is the final part of a short series of writing tips which offer tips and advice on how to create a story. Part 5 covers why things happen in your story, how you can create reasons for events and how to create situations which motivate your characters to say what they say and to do what they do.
Part 5 – Why does it happen?
Last month, we covered how to choose when things will happen in your story, whether it is set in the present day or built up in layers spanning centuries. Now we delve into the motivations of your characters and why it is important to create a backstory of events which influence your characters, their actions and their choices, in the present and the future.
As the author of your story, you have the power to create any number of obstacles for your characters to face. You can create situations for your characters to experience and endure. Your characters can use the skills you give them to attempt to free themselves of the situation or overcome the problem. Whether they succeed or not is up to you, depending on how you want your story to end.
In the Sammy Rambles books, one of Sammy’s problems is that he is being bullied at school. The bullies are hurting Sammy and stealing his lunch money. This is outside of Sammy’s control and it’s Sammy’s parents who make the decision to send Sammy to his new school.
Later in the book, Sammy intervenes when one of his classmates is picked on due to the colour of their hair. Having been bullied himself, Sammy has learned from his experience. He knows how awful it can be so when Sammy has the chance to stand up for his friends, he does.
These are examples of problems or situations you could create:
- Is your character afraid of water? Maybe they nearly drowned when they were younger?
- Are they afraid of being in crowds, or being alone? What might have caused this?
- Perhaps they have won money or inherited property. How do their friends and family react?
- If they have an injury, how did this happen? What is the effect on their everyday life?
- Do fireworks or loud noises bring back memories? What do they do when they hear them?
- Have they moved to a new house? New school? New job? What are the consequences?
Through the experiences I have given Sammy in the books, he learns different skills to help himself and help others. When Sammy discovers he could lose everything, he chooses to fight the enemy and solve the problems I have given him. His motivation is simple. He doesn’t want to go back to his old school and the bullies.
Along his journey, Sammy realises there are bigger things at stake and people are relying on him to save the dragons. He could have given up, but it’s not in the personality I have given Sammy. In the Sammy Rambles books, Sammy grows stronger each time he faces the enemy.
In your story, you may find different characters react differently to different situations. To create depth to your story, ask yourself questions about how you might react in the situation you have created. Would you be brave? Would you run away? Or, like Sammy, would you confront the problem?
Thank you for reading the Sammy Rambles Writing Tips. Copies of the previous writing tips are available on JT Scott’s website – www.sammyrambles.com.