Friday Speak Out!: Story Ingredients

Friday, February 27, 2015
by Brenda Moguez

  • 2 or more hearty characters, preferably one with a problem in need of solving (you can proceed with 1 character, but with two there is possibility)
  • Peppering of quirks
  • 1 major plot
  • ½ dozen, more or less, sub plots
  • Multiple dashes of conflict
  • Heavy sprinkling of tension
  • Senses on the pages in equal parts:
  • 1/3 touch
  • 1/3 smell
  • 1/3 sound
  • Believable dialogue
  • Just enough narrative
  • Adequate setting – too much and your readers get bored, not enough and your readers get lost
  • Imagination
    Not required, but helpful:
    • Unlimited patience
    • 1 good chair
    • Belief in self
    • Support of family and friends (note: some friends may abandon you during the writing of a novel)
    • 1 Dictionary
    • 1 Thesaurus
    • One ream of paper or 2-dozen blank moleskins (or journals of preference)
    • Time (scheduled, measured, managed, and respected)
    • Daily word limit
    • A room of your own
      On a large blank canvas combine the essential ingredients. Stir with equal parts vigor, passion, blood, sweat, and tears, in unquantifiable measurements. After mixing, place the printed pages in a shoebox and store in a dark place for days, in some cases weeks, in rare cases, hours. When ready, proceed to the next step.

      This phase will require the strength of Hercules, a heart of stone, a swift hand with the delete key. You’ll be required to cut and chop, remove the backstory, the excess, the pretty little words that have nothing whatsoever to do with moving the story forward. CAUTION: The first attempt may often reveal a new blank canvas is required, yes starting all over. DON’T CRY. Keep calm and write on.

      At the end of your journey — perhaps 100,000 words give or take — you’ll have a story only you could write. You’ll walk around in awe of yourself. You’ll be amazed. You’ll shout to the moon. Tears of joy will run down your pale cheeks. You’ll dance a jig. You’ll tell the clerk at Safeway, your hairdresser, your great aunt Tootie, even your best friend from second grade, about the book. Some will smile, some will say, “WOW,” some will wonder if you’ve lost your mind and remind you of the missed episodes of Dancing with the Stars. Some will even go so far as to ask, why.

      You might even wonder the same thing. After all, those lost hours spent in front of the computer will not bring you instant fame and fortune (that might require a few more books and a heavy sprinkling of Tinker Bell’s fairy dust). Something in you will know there is no answer that will satisfy the person asking the question. How do you explain the sublime, the surreal, and the burning passion to create from inside of yourself? Not easy to do. If pressed, I say it was the only way to quiet the voices in my head. Of course, they run for the hills when I say that, but I don’t mind. I like that they think I’m quirky, borderline strange, one of those weird writer types. Write on.

      * * *

      Brenda Moguez writes the kind of stories she loves to read, women’s fiction and contemporary romance, staring quirky, passionate women, who are challenged by the fickleness of life and the complexities of romantic relationships. She’s particularly drawn to exploring the effects of love on the heart of a woman. Her forte is stripping away the protective layers concealing doubts and insecurities, which wreak havoc on intimate relationships, and exposing the soul of her beautifully flawed characters who learn happiness isn’t one size fits all. You can find her at and

      Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!



      Angela Mackintosh said...

      I love this post! Very creative, Brenda. :) It's back to the kitchen for me, as I attempt to whip up another story soufflé. ;)

      Sioux Roslawski said...

      Brenda--I loved your post.

      Yeah, I had to go shopping and start cooking again, because I burned the first batch...or (probably more accurately) I didn't bake it long enough and it was still raw and gooey and inedible (and unreadable).

      Good luck with your future writing, Brenda.

      Margo Dill said...

      I think as long as we are improving our craft. It is always back to the kitchen! Cute post!

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