How to Write a Composition/Story Full

How to write a composition or story

Many people have asked me, "How do you write a story?" or "How do you write a piece of music?"

To answer the question directly, one must storyboard.

Traditionally, storyboard is defined as a sequence of drawings, typically with some directions and dialogue, representing the shots planned for a movie or television production.
In literature, you write out your main points or events.   In music, you may write out what melodic ideas you may have.

Typically in literature, you have three main events (like in music's sonata form, we have three events also): introduction, conflict, and resolution (exposition, development, recapitulation in sonata.)

Now here's the catch: you can write any part at anytime.

You may have at first, the resolution.  Let's say your resolution is "he's reunited with his father."  THAT'S OKAY.  Now that the time to write the rest of the book.
You may have the conflict first.  It could be "Johnny finds out his mom is not his mom."  So now, you have to write the introduction and how is this going be resolved.
Finally, you may have a beginning such "a cellist who wants to over his stage fright." Okay, now come up with the conflict and the resolution.

You can write any part you want first.   If you are unsure of how to connect the two, have people who are readers help you sort it all out.  I was lucky.  I had LaKindra Parker, Althea Hughes Willis, and Earl Brooks making sure I connected the dots.

The same goes in symphonic music.  You must have all three in sonata form.  It's funny how the correlation with art, music, and literature go hand and hand!

Whatever you do, just make sure you put it all together in the end!

When writing your story, one thing to perhaps keep in mind is how long will your story be.  I was CONVINCED when I first wrote my upcoming book that it was going to be a novelette.

Novelette?  Okay, let me explain.

In the whole fiction genre, there are generally four categories as it regards to length.   The Science Fiction Writers of America uses these measurements as their standards:

  • Short fiction: under 7,500 words
  • Novelette: 7,500-17,500 words
  • Novella: 17,500-40,000 words
  • Novel: 40,000 words and up

I wanted to write a smaller story in length (novelette) to tell my story.  Now if I were not self-publishing, this would pose a serious problem.  Why?

Most publishers stay away from the short stories and novelettes because of cost.  Too small to print and too small to make money.  Therefore, if you have a collection of short stories or novelette, it makes it more attractive to the publisher.  Since this is my first book, I don't qualify for that!

What about e-publishing?
There is a market for this, a great market actually; however, the upper-echelon awards require hard copies.  Depends on what you want out of it.   If think your book is Pulitzer-worthy, then get it printed. If not, Kindle it is!

So What did I choose?
Because of my word length, my upcoming project would be classified as a novella.  Contrary to popular belief, there has been MANY of novellas that have been erroneously labeled as novels:

·  "The Body" (Stand By Me, 1986) by Stephen King

·  "Rita Hayworth & "The Shawshank Redemption" (The Shawshank Redemption, 1994) by Stephen King

·  "Apt Pupil" by Stephen King

·  "A River Runs Through It" by Thomas Maclean

·  "The Bicentennial Man" by Isaac Asimov

·  "Breakfast at Tiffany's" by Truman Capote

·  "Heart of Darkness" (Apocalypse Now, 1976) by Joseph Conrad

·  "Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck

·  "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, 1941) by Robert Louis Stevenson,

·  "The War of the Worlds" by H.G. Wells ·   "Call of the Wild"  by Jack London 
 ·   "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens
·   "Animal Farm" by George Orwell

Mind you , I didn't say "I want to write 30,000 words."  What I did say was that I wanted to make sure I clearly defined the plots and subplots in my story and I knew it would probably take that amount of words.

As in music, a lot of people miss out on a major thing: character development.   It's important that your protagonist and antagonist have development which captivates the readers.   In almost every great piece of music, literature, and film, these are developed.  (I can only think of one movie where the antagonist wasn't developed and that was Dark Knight.  The Joker's character wasn't really developed if you really think about it.  He was just villainously raw.  However, he gets a pass because a) the Joker is as old as our grandparents and most people already knew what to expect  b) because of Heath Ledger's passing, we came to understand that he was going to return in the third movie which was going to answer if this Joker was Jack Napier, Jack White, Joseph Kerr or neither.  So unless you've writing a character that we've known for eighty years, get to developing!)

In my case, at first, I did not develop one of my characters enough.  My beloved sister Althea (who is a better writer than I and one of the most talented in the family) told me I needed to give this character an out.  If I didn't, this character would be too vile.  Something as small as one sentence gave a hint into the character.

Enter Earl Brooks. 
Earl was like a professor the whole time in my process asking me questions with a stern literary critique.  Although he did not ghost write, his questions provoked a lot of thought which were invaluable to my authorship.  He made sure I understood the ramifications of using certain colloquialisms.  Because of this, Earl made me see what my target audience was.  Another key point we had major discourse on was how deep we needed to go in character development.  Back to Althea's point, I went back and devoted a whole chapter to that character which answered everything Earl asked.  This is what happens when you get a bibliophile English PhD student to critique!

Why do I share all this?
The reason is to show that everyone needs help.  When you write, you don't have to show the whole world.  Just get a selected group of people just make sure you dotted "I's" and crossed your "T's".   Don't surround yourself with yesmen.  Surround yourself with people who can amplify your goals.

The Passes
Really, this should be called,"Don't have an ego"

I'm an emotional artist.  I put some much into every note I compose, every phrase I arrange, and every word I write.  Therefore, I become attached to everything.

With that being said, GET AN EDITOR.  Better yet, get an editor THAT WILL
1) Tell you the truth
2) Change words around i.e. reword a phrase THAT BETTER suits the audience
3) has an eagle eye!

Pass is everytime the editor goes through it.  You'll need MANY passes.  AT LEAST FIVE!
That's right, FIVE.    I've lost count.  I've had to add backstory (Thank you, Althea - Shonell) and more backstory (Thank you, Earl) and even MORE back story (Thank you, Dr. Amber V!)

I prayed for my editor.  She was in my lap the whole time, my cousin Jasmine. She uses so much red ink we have to go to three different stores to keep it in stock.  But guess what? She's GREAT at what she does.

Truth be told, I had people look it before Jasmine.  Kanika, LaKindra, Earl, Shiron, and MANY others.  DO THE SAME!! (If the Avengers, which earned a BILLION dollars [and they thought it would have made $500,000,000] can go through a rewrite, your manuscript can do the same!)
Then guess what!?!?! SHE TOLD ME TO GET AN EDITOR!!!

So I found Shonell to do the final edits.  Boy, she put me through the ringer.  And it was WORTH IT!!  She's amazing.  I call her a Lexicologist.

Take your time. WOO-SAH and don't Let anyone tell you that you can't write a book!