Tips from a Pro
By Natalie Bright
Award winning author of 147 books, Dusty Richards, visited our critique group along with a few of our writerly guests to share insight on story craft and the crazy world of today’s publishing business.
Dusty writes short stories and novels set in the west which usually include a few cowboys on horses, but as he pointed out, story craft can apply across all genres. “For beginning writers, don’t think you have to write Gone With the Wind,” he says. “Write about one character and tell his story.”
Structuring a Story
Basic story structure can be divided into four parts:
Part 1: character lost (first 60-80 pages)
Part 2: character is alone
Part 3: emerging hero (somebody comes forward to help him & he has purpose)
Part 4: the main character becomes a Hero or Martyr
Keeping this basic structure in mind, you can apply this to most mainstream novels and movies. Think of story as a collection of scenes and sequels. Every action deserves a response.
Newbie Writer Mistakes & POV
Dusty told us that the number one mistake he sees over and over is Point of View. If you’re writing in the main characters point of view, an action statement should never be “they walked inside”, for example. It should always be he or she. “He took her arm and led her inside.” Stay in your characters POV and be true to that character. Don’t use words that seem awkward or stilted for that character.
Here’s your homework: for those writers having trouble with internalization, Dusty suggested finding a few used paperbacks and highlighting the internal dialogue. Not quotation spoken dialogue or action or imagery, only the character’s internal thoughts.
For more information about books by this SPUR Award winning author, visit www.dustyrichards.com.