An Overview of Story Creation

By Hank Quense

Let’s assume you are a new (or inexperienced) fiction writer. You probably know that creating a story requires a great deal of work and thinking. You may not know that the work involved is the same whether you are creating a short story, a novel, a play, a script or even a memoir.

“How can that be?” you ask. Simply because a novel, a script, a memoir, a play, a short story are all stories. And no matter what type of story you have in mind, each requires a number of common elements such as characters, plots, scenes, settings, character arcs and more.

The only difference between these types of stories is the output. What the manuscript looks like, in other words. The manuscripts for a novel and for a play will look very different, but the process of creating those manuscripts is exactly the same.

Let’s put that issue aside and discuss a different topic. Stories are the result of three separate creative processes:

Story design
Storytelling techniques

Let’s discuss each one of these processes.

A mistake many rookie writers make is to start writing a story when they have only a single idea. While a single idea can be the genesis of a story, no story can be written from a single idea. A short story needs perhaps a dozen ideas while a novel requires many more than a hundred ideas. The writer needs ideas about the character development, plot events, the setting, the character arc and the scene designs. To gather all these ideas requires time and a great deal of thinking. This is where a notebook (a real one or a digital one) comes in handy. You never know when a great idea when pop into your head.

2. Story Design
What is story design? It’s the process of developing all the story elements such as characters, plot events and so forth. To put it another way, story design is the where the writer incorporates all these ideas into the story.
I’m a planner (as opposed to a panster) so I spend a lot of time on story design before I attempt to write the first draft. In most cases the story design process for a novel consumes three months or more. A major portion of this time is spent on determining the scenes I need to get the characters from the start of the story to the climactic scenes at the end.

3. Storytelling
No matter how great your ideas are and no matter wonderful your story design is, if you don’t have the storytelling skills to hold the reader’s attention, your story is doomed. Storytelling involves the use of a number of techniques that include point-of-view, foreshadowing, show-don’t-tell, stimulus & reaction, dialog vs exposition among other topics.

One storytelling skill that isn’t discussed much in writing books is the development of a writing voice. Writers can’t tell a story by using their speaking voice: they have to develop a separate and distinct writing voice. The reason for this is that our speaking voice tends to be boring. Very boring. Want proof? Eavesdrop on the conversation between a few strangers. I’ll bet you it won’t hold your interest for long. So imagine trying to read a story written in a speaking voice.

I believe that once a writer understands the creative processes required to produce a story, the work can go forward more easily and more smoothly.

This article is based on material in my book Creating Stories.

Write Group Poetry Awards

The results from the Poetry Center of Passaic County Community College announced the results of the 2017 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards.  The Write Group did pretty good.

Phillipa Scott won Third Place, and Honorable Mention went to both Ron Bremner and Carole Stone


New Poetry Book Published

E.B. Littlehill (Ellen Bedrosian)
Publishes First Poetry Collection

I’m delighted to announce that my first book of poetry is available for preorder. If you received a postcard in the mail, this will give a little more detail about the book.

See the Dragons ~ A Collection of Zen Haiku explores three types of love: romantic, unrequited and spiritual, within the context of expanded awareness through a daily meditation practice.

To read the reviews and for ordering information, visit Finishing Line Press. Number of copies printed in the initial pressrun will be determined by the amount of prepublication sales received by June 9. If you already ordered a copy, THANK YOU!

Included in the Spiritual Love section is the zen haiku, “Awareness,” which won Special Category Award: Haiku in the Spirit First 2016 Meditation Poetry Contest

I am awareness
Secrets of the universe
Are all inside me


Self-publishing Tips

The objective isn’t to simply self-publish a book. That’s easy these days.

The trick is to put together a quality book package to surround your content and that isn’t so easy. It requires work, perseverance and money. As to time, it can actually take a few months to put together this quality book package. Compare that to the “wrong way” to self-publish. In this scenario, the author finishes the manuscript on Monday, buys a cheap, generic cover on Tuesday and uploads the book on Wednesday. Eureka! The book is published! Except the book package is so bad, no one will ever buy it.

Here are a few tips on Self-publishing.

Copyrights: Make sure you understand what copyright is all about and what it is not-about. Study the material found on

Book title: Before you commit to a title, search the web for your title. You may be surprised at how many other books, movies, songs etc have the same title. Perhaps you should change it to something less well-known.

Editing: In my opinion, getting an editor to work on your book is not an option. It is a mandatory requirement. Don’t give the book to a family member to edit unless they are skilled at that activity. You need a professional editor, not a high school student. Always remember, your name is on the cover of the book. Editing will take time, so ensure an adequate interval to get the editing done and to make the changes in the manuscript.

Ebook covers: Consist of the front cover only. IMHO, you should spend as much money on a cover as you can afford. Generic covers are available but you get what you pay for. You may see the same cover on someone else’s book. How embarrassing!

Formatting: This refers to how you format the manuscript. Print books and ebooks have much different formatting requirements. Word processors assume you’ll print the text it produces. Consequently, the default settings support a print book, not an ebook. If you upload a manuscript formatted for a print book to an ebook packager, you’ll have a disaster on your hands if the upload is not automatically rejected.

Once you publish your book, you’ll meet the most wonderful people who will offer to help you market your book. For a small fee, that isn’t really so small. Be warned. Most of these people are scam artists who are only interested in the thickness of your wallet, not your book.

These tips are taken from Self-publishing a Book. It’s one of my books in the Complete Self-publishing Guide.


Hank Quense

Another Poetry Contest

❉ The 2017 Voices of Lincoln Poetry Contest 

And To Spread The Word To Both Adult And Young Poets


April is National Poetry Month and the time to kick off the 2017 Voices of Lincoln Poetry Contest. 

As entrants in the 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and/or 2016 Voices of Lincoln Poetry Contest, I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to enter the 2017 contest. As coordinator of the contest the past eight years, I had the opportunity to read and enjoy all the wonderful poems entered. Since I was not a judge, I was not put in the difficult position of deciding which ones should place in the contest.

Now we have entered a new year and it is time for a new contest. All contest categories are different and interesting and will challenge your creativity and imagination. I encourage you to submit your poetry again this year.

Attached, please find both the “Rules and Entry Form” and the “Contest Flyer.”

I look forward to receiving your entries for this year’s contest.

Alan Lowe
Coordinator, 2017 Voices of Lincoln Poetry Contest

Poetry Contest

Poems of Experience:
The Fifth Annual Common Good Books Poetry Contest

We’re are now accepting entries for “‘Poems of Experience: The Fifh Annual Common Good Books Poetry Contest.” Sharpen your pencil, and tell us what’s happened to you. Ten poets will receive prizes of $250 each for their poems of particular merit. Entries to “Poems of Experience” may be any poetic form. Mail your poem to Common Good Books, postmarked no later than April 15, 2017.

The rules at a glance:

  • Entries must be mailed to Common Good Books (38 S Snelling Ave, St Paul MN 55105), postmarked no later than April 15, 2017.
  • Please send two copies of your poem.
  • Entries must be a single poem.
  • The entries must be original work, previously unpublished, and the author must have full rights to the material.
  • Only one entry per person is permitted.
  • The contest is open to anyone living within the United States.

Help Wanted

IndieReader is looking for writers who might be interesting in reading, rating and writing reviews.


It pay Its $15 per review for kids picture books, $25 per review for books less than 100K words, $30 for review for books over 100K+ words, $15 for to read, rate + write a 1-2 sentence verdict for books less than 100K words and $20 for read, rate + write a 1-2 verdict for books 100K words+.


If interested, contact Amy Edelman at IndieReader.