Have you ever wondered how to begin telling a story? Maybe you have a wonderful plot idea, but you cannot seem to put words to paper. The solution lies in one word: Culture.
When I begin a chapter of a story, I normally begin by setting the scene in an environment. I describe what that environment looks like. Does the scene take place during the day or night? Is the sun shining through the windows, or is the moonlight glimmering on the leaves of a tree? The idea with a story is to paint pictures inside the minds of your readers. Are the characters inside or outside? If it’s day, what time of day is it – morning, noon, or evening? What sort of foods would the characters be eating during that time?
Story is about situating a plot within the context of life. In order to write a historical fiction story, one must research the culture of that time. What natural events inside of that specific culture would take place on a day to day basis? What sort of architecture, clothing, occupations, ecclesiastical places, games/sports of the time, foods, drinks, habitat, furniture, artistry, music, literature, writing materials, form of speech, geography, etc. lie within your story? What sort of class structure exists? A story is not a true story if it cannot answer these questions.
Just as a painter cannot fill the canvas without a palette, so a writer cannot paint images inside the mind of a reader without describing the environment of the story. Start Simple. Think of the time of day within the scene. Then, picture the clothing of your character. What are his eyes examining? What sounds is he hearing? Keep these answers within the context of the culture of your story, and you have begun a great tale!
Your fellow writer,
Joshua A. Reynolds, Proprietor