Storycrafting: Eliminate writer’s block with a triangle?
What is storycrafting? The answer lies in understanding three points before we begin. The first is that writing can be beautiful, well-written, and have absolutely nothing of value to say or fail to tell a story in the process. The second is that a story can exist outside of written form. A person can be a storyteller but lack the skill needed to tell that story in a written format. The third is that a writer can have the skills necessary for the task, and be a great storyteller, and “run out” of ideas. The dreaded writer’s block.
So storycrafting is a way to keep the ideas flowing and to do so in a way that adds up to a compelling story which entices people to connect emotionally with the work. I don’t believe in writer’s block. I never run out of story or ideas. That might sound egotistical and dismissive of real struggles writers face to come up with ideas. It’s not; I just have a system that allows me to be free to work on the writing and allows the ideas to flow unimpeded.
So, how do I do it? It’s straightforward. I use a method that I call the Hexa-Dub Storycrafting Method®. It is a series of questions that can be utilized for grand plot ideas, or dive deep into the minute details of a character’s motivation.
The reason I started this journey was simple. I joined an amazing writer’s group and benefitted from the expertise and skill of the other writers in the group. I never ran out of plot ideas, but my writing needed tons of help. After a few years, I felt as if I was taking more from the group than I was contributing, so I set about systematizing the process I use to create a steady stream of content.
When I accomplished my goal of designing a system, I experimented with my wife, who is not a writer and has never attempted to come up with an idea for a novel. Within ten minutes, she had a basic premise for a book and understood the primary motivations of her protagonist. It was so simple; I felt stupid that I hadn’t done it earlier.
The Hexa-Dub Storycrafting Method® uses six questions that start with the letter “W.” I’ll walk you through the basics, and over the next few weeks, we will look at ways to implement this tool in various circumstances.
The first question is easy. I like to start with a person. Let’s use Bob as our “Who.” The next row requires we ask two “What” questions about Bob. The third row makes you answer the question “Why” is the second row true?
If Bob is the who, then we might answer two “What” questions about him as follows. First Bob is a middle-aged man. Second, he hates his job. Next, we would answer “Why” are those statements about Bob true. Perhaps Bob is a salesperson, a stressful job. Easy to see why he might hate it but not complete yet. The second reason could be that Bob’s company is losing customers. The third reason is that Bob can’t leave his job because he works for his father-in-law.
Now, we still have a good deal of questions to ask before we can write about Bob’s story, but now we know what questions to ask. Why does Bob work for his in-laws? What type of product does he sell? Where does he live? To answer them, create another triangle and repeat the process. You can make as many as you need until you feel comfortable with the amount of information you have about Bob.
Super simple right? I thought so too. The best part is that this can be utilized by outliners and pantsers alike. If you are an outliner, use these to fill out your story before you begin. If you aren’t the outline type, keep these questions close and refer to them while you write to help steer you in the right direction. Practice with it and let me know how it works out for you!