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D for Distance

Create a chain of events

First comes the study of your characters. They start existing, walking, speaking, lighting a cigarette, or chewing a pack of gum. You started talking to them and now they answer you back, so you’re ready to write their story. You must have a plot already in your head, but without a good study of your character, your story will result in something flat.

So now you need to adjust the idea you have with the characters you created. Let’s imagine you wrote a book about Alan, a drug addict that wants his family back but doesn’t want to stop using drugs. He must have a mum, dad, brothers, or sisters, right? His family, what they look like, what they want from him? Why he’s so obsessed with their love and cannot leave them behind? Maybe he’s using drugs because of them, because of something that happened?

Create a chain of events.

Many questions can come when you think about your characters’ purposes and desires. However, if it was a simple desire- response, we would probably be speaking about Pavlov and his experiments with poor dogs. In a story, we’re talking about a chain; the longer this chain is between the characters and their desire- objective, the better for the reader.

Let’s take Mr. Bean as an example. The scene starts and we know he needs to accomplish an effortless task: buying a pair of shoes or washing his hands, it doesn’t matter. We start exclaiming something like “oh, come on, don’t do that” or “watch out”, but deep inside, we want him to fail. Not at the end, no. We want him to buy is pair of shoes or wash his hands. We’re not cruel. But we really want to be entertained, and without him passing through every ring of the chain of events before reaching his final goal, we won’t. As simple as that.

So, that’s Distance. Create a character obsessed with reaching a lake, put him in between a mountain with a bear hunting him, and make him allergic to bees. The Desire will push over his limits; his background will make the reader glued to the book, avid to read more of the adventures. The distance will ultimately make the story what it is: a long chain of events.

And soon, the third D, Denial.

D as in Desire

What is desire and why is it so important?

You probably listened to a song called Freed from desire. The idea is obviously not that new, as desire seems to enslave us. We need to know how to control that desire and, as writers, how to fully understand it. We have mentioned before 4 Ds, let’s start with the first one, desire.

In Stanislavsky’s philosophy, desire is a super objective; obstacles and conflicts are vital for a story to develop. What you must ask yourself now is: how can I create impediments to my characters if I don’t know them yet and how could I think of knowing someone if not starting from his personal goals?

Desire, definition.

So, let’s try to find your characters’ desires. First, associate it with an action verb since this is what a story is about: action. An example to avoid is to imagine a desire like this:

“A man wants to be a better person.”

Maybe our character Alan told us he wanted to be a better man when we interviewed him; this isn’t a desire we can use in a story if we want it to develop. His desire has to be specific and better if it is double, as in:

“Alan wants his family to trust his choices.”

The character would think in this way:

“I lied to my family all my life. It’s time for me to stop using drugs and let them trust me again.”

In short, it’s an action plan followed by the primary goal of the character. Creating a double and specific desire, we could later decide to “attack” our character from two sides.

Alan wants to be trusted by his family, but his nature is against it. So, trying to adjust his life, he’s probably going to replicate the same pattern repeatedly. When finally, Alan seems to have found a balance, it’s maybe too late and his family doesn’t want to speak to him anymore. How would he react to this change of events? Now that Alan is alone in the world, would he return to his bad habits, or would he change completely no matter what? What does it mean to trust him now that he is alone from his family’s point of view? How would his family react to his changes?

The more specific the desire, the less “egocentric” it would be from the reader’s perspective. A story based on “He did this, then he did that” is quite boring, to say the least. What makes a nice story is a desire that goes in two ways; Alan depends on his family as much as they rely on him. This creates several possibilities for the writer, for you and me, to discover new plots. Remember that the desire has to follow your character’s attributes. Imagine if Alan thought about his desire in this way:

“I lied to my family all my life. It’s time for me to find a way to cover the fact that I use drugs, so they will trust me again.”

See how twisted the story is now? Alan doesn’t want to be a better person but just a better liar.

Now ask yourself: what would happen if my character failed to achieve his goal? What are the consequences for him and for the rest of the characters involved? It’s better if the reader always knows what it’s at stake and what the risks are for the main character. Without risks, there’s no reader, as simple as that.

Sometimes a character can have a desire on the surface, manifest to everyone, plus another one that only the reader knows or think to know. It’s you, the writer that has to work with these two levels, making the reader curious about how it is going to end. The desire has to be clear if you want the readers to be really engaged, asking themselves, “how is it going to end for him? Is Alan going to lie successfully to his family, or he’s going to be discovered? Will they trust him again? In any case, achieving or not the primary goal has to leave a closure for the reader, an answer to all the questions raised.

So, this was the first D, next time, we’ll inspect our second D, for Distance.

The 4Ds

And none of them is Daniele, pity

We imagined our characters, maybe watching a colleague closely for years or just having a glimpse of an old woman on the way back home in the metro. Whatever the case, we have the first idea of our characters and a vague idea of the plot. Now, we decided to tide up our characters (or nicely invite them to a tea party), and we started questioning them. We saw how comfortable it is to ask easy questions and how uncomfortable it makes us ask some more profound, strictly personal questions. 

It’s totally fine. But it’s still not enough. With your characters, you need to ask questions about their past, their dark secrets, and their manias. Think about how challenging it is for you to ask any question to a complete stranger, even where to find the closest pharmacy. And now consider how challenging is to answer a question since it’s still you speaking through your character.

4 Ds shape your characters

Suppose someone is describing a car to you:

“With a maximum top speed of 105 mph (169 km/h), a curb weight of 1993 lbs (904 kgs), the TR3 has a naturally-aspirated Inline 4 cylinder engine, Petrol motor. This engine produces a maximum power of 101 PS (100 bhp – 74 kW) at 5000 rpm and a maximum torque of 159.0 Nm (117 lb.ft) at 5000 rpm. The power is transmitted to the road by the rear wheel drive (RWD) with a 4-speed Manual gearbox. On the topic of chassis details responsible for road holding, handling behavior and ride comfort, the TR3 has Coil springs. Front suspension and Semi-elliptic leaf springs. De Dion axle. Rear suspension. The TR3 braking system includes the front and rear for stopping power. The TR3 model is a Cabrio car manufactured by Triumph, sold new from 1955. I’m going to sell my apartment to buy it.”

If you are ignorant of car matters, you’d most probably find this description ultimately futile. You have a lot of information, but you didn’t give anything useful to the general reader; no emotions mean no way for the reader to follow you into your story. Also, when that person added he would sell his apartment to buy it at the end of the description, you probably thought he was insane. Let’s imagine another person describing to you the same car in this way:

“Yesterday, an old man approached me at the market and asked me if I had ever watched La dolce vita by Federico Fellini. I’d never seen him before and found that question really odd. At any rate, I wouldn’t lose anything answering back, so I did. I told him that I’m a cinema connoisseur and mostly into old Italian movies. So he told me that he had the original car from the movie, the excellent Triumph TR3. That’s a magical, convertible, fashionable car as no one does anymore. When you accelerate, you feel the engine almost speaking to you, a roar full of stories and secrets. That’s more than a car. It’s an obsession now. I’m going to sell my apartment to buy it.”

Now, even if you’ve never heard of the car before, you probably start visualizing yourself seated in the front seat of this cult car, the engine speaking to you. You know this person is a cinema connoisseur and all the information you acquired is helpful in understanding the ultimate decision. It’s still a crazy conclusion to make, selling an apartment to buy a car, but now you know why. There’s a reason behind it.

Well, what we’ll do next time is to analyze the 4 Ds that will shape your characters and, therefore, your story:

Keep reading!

Levels

It’s time to start making some order on our story.

Levels, what are they? 

In short, it’s the same process we analyzed before, but this time we’re bound to a scheme that goes down into our character through levels.

Level A

Let’s call it level A, the most simple kind. Imagine introducing someone as in the famous scene in Bridget Jones’s diary:

“Introduce someone with thoughtful details, as in ‘Sheila, this is Daniel, Daniel this is Sheila. Sheila likes horse riding and comes from New Zealand. Daniel enjoys publishing and comes…”

Well, no. Maybe this first level should get less intimate. Visualize yourself instead as a TV quiz presenter and you want to introduce one of your contestants:

“This is Sheila. Sheila is in her mid-thirties, a respectable citizen and an excellent teacher in a school for the hearing impaired. She likes swimming and she and her wife are now moms of a wonderful boy called Josh.”

Level B

So, level A gave us a bird’s eye view of our character’s life. We know she is a middle-class mid-thirties woman, a mother, and has some hobbies. We start now wondering if this is it. We dig some information there, but is it enough to make an interesting character?

That’s why we have a B level, like in that monstrous Dubai parking where I used to get lost between ‘Parking lot F 32 12th floor or F32 11th floor’. The only difference is we need to constantly explain why we parked our characters in such a parking spot; we cannot just assume it was the best spot for us and the characters have to fit there.

Now start asking yourself and, therefore, your characters why they make some decisions. Sheila is a teacher for children and teenagers with hearing disabilities, but why she’s doing this job? Is she or her sister, her mother, or her wife deaf? 

We know she’s married to a woman. How does this fit with her character, her background, and the place she lives? What is it like to live in a small town and be a gay mother? If you decide to place her in a specific location, it’s not coincidental and never has to be.

Although sometimes during Christmas time we need to park our park in a very random parking spot far away from the mall’s entrance, that’s not an excuse. Our characters must arrive when the mall is closed and park their car in their correct spot. I hope you get the sense of this simile.

Level C

So, we raised a hairbow creating a flat, stereotypical character that a quiz presenter can introduce in a handful of seconds. Then, we raised a second hairbow to our reader by giving that quiz participant some critical information and background history.

Now it’s time to psychoanalyze the characters and take from them all resourceful details. You can ask your characters whatever you want, way more questions than the ones you asked them before.

You can ask what your Sheila would choose between a beautiful university research career in Geneva and a simple life as a teacher in a small town in the U.S. And why not? She doesn’t want to, or she’s scared? She tried already and failed? Is it related at all to any other characters?

Yes, that’s an important point to keep always in mind:

All the details you raise about your characters must be helpful in the story’s development and, therefore, for accomplishing the final goal they need to reach. The characters would eventually pass hundreds of small goals in a story, from getting out of the sofa to saving someone from being hit by a car.

Levels, graphic by Daniele Frau

But they will always have a final, super goal to accomplish. They will fulfill or not, but that’s irrelevant. The important is they reach that crescendo and arrive at that last moment ready, together with the reader.

So, to paraphrase Collins, if a woman is obsessed with money all her life, a perfect detail to put in could be her playing with a small golden ring when she’s nervous. Then, the reader would know that the second would always prevail between her personal happiness and a lot of money.

That’s all for today. Let’s go back to write something interesting. I have a couple of lovely characters to write about. And you?

Peculiar traits

Peculiar traits and where to find them

You are on the bus; there are tons of people to add to your character palette around you. Humanity at its best and worst awaits to be acknowledged. Then you noticed a bald guy with a beard, so skinny you can count his bones. The guy is in his forties; his feet move rhythmically, following an invisible tempo. 

You start imagining which songs it’s trapped in his head and start counting the time: tap, taptaptap, tap, taptaptap. When you descend, you’re sure he was humming Eye of the Tiger by Survivor

What did you do?

You tried your best to be a Sherlock, trying to guess a song starting from the appearance of the guy and the movement of his feet. What you did is OK if you want to write some boring novel swarming with flat characters. Here you’ve committed to building round-believable characters, so let’s try to go the extra mile.

Let’s do it again

Peculiar traits

The guy in front of us has something in his pocket, with a keychain bulging a bit out. From the colors, it seems it is the BMW symbol, so he has some car keys in his pocket. Why would a 40-years-old with a car decide to spend time on a bus on such a busy hot day? A mechanic, maybe? Or his car broke and he had to take the bus? Then, you notice his feet moving rhythmically, following an invisible tempo. It’s not the rhythm he’s following that attracts you, but something else. It seems he’s pushing on an invisible accelerator and breaking and repeating it constantly.

A good man

He’s a good man, he’s always has been, but then something changed, something deep. His values changed, together with his life, after the accident. He was a family man, stressed enough to have money to pay a loan but not too much to get insomniac.

He was working a night shift when it happened when he passed that guy with a scooter. They argued, as always, when you’re driving in a busy city. But, this time, it wasn’t a typical argument. The guy in the scooter started to follow him, shouting at our guy in his brand new BMW. When finally they stopped at the traffic light, the guy in the scooter descended and yelled again. Maybe he was under drugs, perhaps he was insane, who knows?

Our guy remained inside his BMW, just waiting for the green light to go. Too tired and too nervous about spending time with this useless prick. And then it happened. The guy outside gave the first kick at the car door and it got dented. The light was still red; the traffic light seemed frozen, a match ready to burn the city at any moment. 

People snaps

People snaps. People lose control for the most surprising reasons. For our guy, that reason was his car; he couldn’t stand another kick, and every time that foot kicked his car, it made him angrier and redder than the traffic light in front of him. He opened the door, grabbed the guy and threw him with all his forces to the other side of the street. 

Fatally, the guy in the scooter fell badly, his head on the edge of the sidewalk. They said it was a once-in-a-while scenario, an accident, and he got heavily provoked. Police left all the charges, and everything seemed to return to normal.

Everything except the guilty sensation hidden inside him. His feet still thinking about that moment when he could put the first gear and go, his hand reaching for the keys inside the pocket, turning on an invisible engine.

What did we do?

We imagined a layered character doing something unexpected due to background we don’t know yet. In a book, even the minor characters must have a background story, even if it’s barely a simple, sketched one. This leads to the “so what” moment we discussed earlier. After that, we ask ourselves how a person with such a background will speak, walk and so on.

Curved shoulders, slight tic on one eye, moving back the glasses, or constantly sneezing three times. Add whatever you think is accurate for your character and his background.

In the following article, we will start speaking about levels to structure your characters correctly.

In the meantime, keep reading my stories here and see you soon!

Daniele Frau

So what?

Let’s dive deeper

Over the silence

Did you ever spend so much time with a friend that, in the end, what remains between you two is only silence?

That’s not the worst sensation since it’s better than talking just for the sake of talking. So, you and your character are getting good acquaintance, then good friends and maybe best friends after your chat. You really want your fictional friend to strive and have a wonderful meta-existence.

Unfortunately, fiction writing doesn’t work like this. I have a friend that likes to write only real stories with a good ending. he said once, and I quote:

“Why imagine some adventurous sad story when I have a good one in front of me with a perfect happy ending?”

And I answered:

“What do you believe, speaking about Napoleon is a boring topic? But his life didn’t end well, did it?”

That’s the summa of what is behind the “so what?” moment. You need to understand your character better; to do so, you need some difficulties. It’s too easy to be a badass or a choirboy sitting in a bar chitchatting. I’ve met so many of these people in my life, and when it truly mattered, they disappeared like smoke.

Yes, smoke and glass disappear when you reach a certain point in the chat with your character. What remains? The bone, some nerves, you x-screen your character completely.

Let some people enter the coffee place where you’re supposedly chatting with your new dramatic persona. For example, in the movie “Danny the dog”, there’s a scene that depicts this moment. Some criminals enter a shop with guns and beat up a couple of customers. It’s quite a shocking scene; all characters are surprised and shocked. The reaction of the main character?

He appears on the screen and tells his new friend (Morgan Freeman) that he finally found a ripe melon. A ripe melon! There was a life-or-death scenario around him and what he was focused on was a ripe melon? Well, his friend would understand eventually that something is utterly wrong with him.

It’s a turning point in the movie, a powerful scene that tells us a lot, even if we were just tuning in at that moment and saw it alone.

So what?

So what? Graphic by Daniele Frau.

Stress them out

Let’s see what our characters do on a stressful occasion, exactly like Danny. They will turn to us with ripe melon in their hands, or we will find them behind the Kellog’s stand, shaking?

This method will allow you to undercover something that lies way under the surface: the values. Given a stressful situation, will your character react violently or remain as calm as a toad in the sun? 

What these values will uncover? Let’s discover it in our next article.

In the meantime, keep reading my stories here and see you soon!

Daniele Frau

Discover your character

Make your character come to life

We talk about character creation and how important is this phase for the story design. I feel Getting into the character by Brandlyin Collins is one of the best books if you want to learn how to sketch your character.

First, ask questions

Rule number one creating a character.

First, ask questions directly to your character. Treat your characters as if they were real people, and sit down with them to know them better. I’ll tell you about an actual conversation with one of the last characters I created for a story I’m writing. First, I pictured him with the body and face of Alesana Tuilagi, the famous rugby player. That helped me have a tangible person in front of me, but it was like he was standing behind the curtains and I could only see his traits through them.

“Hi, what’s your name?”

Silence.

My character didn’t answer me back. I tried again to notice, to my surprise, that my character didn’t have a mouth; hence, his voice was kind of muffled. I got closer to the curtains and I felt it. A smell that only later I recognized as a snake smell and his voice made me shiver. I asked my question again, this time trying to understand his answer.

“My name is Lasghari, but no one has called me like that since I was 5. I mean, there are all dead.”

So, now I knew that there was a giant creature with no proper mouth that hissed while speaking and had a smell like a snake. Plus, I discovered my character was an assassin and a brutal one since he probably killed his own family.

“And now, how old are you? How can I call you?”

I didn’t dare to call him Lasghari. See, even though I knew I was speaking with an imaginary person, I had to feel it was real if I wanted to discover something interesting. The more we talked, the more I acknowledged in him the characteristics I saw before in people, mainly violent individuals I was unlucky enough to meet in the street. He slurred his speech, as he was drooling, the heavy breathing.

Then, I noticed a detail

His voice wasn’t just slurred and muffled because of his monstrous mouth, but he had something else. My character, I discovered again with surprise, was masked; a thick mask made of cement from crushed bones. I imagined him like an infernal baker, but instead of using flour, he used crushed bones.

Two hours later

We spoke for about two hours since I knew everything about him in the end. Also, I thought about deleting him from my tale because he genuinely terrified me. His background story was so intense and horrific that I asked myself if that was too much. 

No, he was too powerful, and I didn’t just give him the privilege of being the co-protagonist with another character. He turned out to be the perfect alter ego, the best way to speak about what I had in mind when I started writing the story. I wanted to talk about how violence begins in the first place, taking The Lucifer Effect by Zimbardo and mixing it with the thesis by Rutger Bregman and his optimistic history of humankind.

What a trip!

What a trip it was. When I finally let the two characters one close to each other, even though they were well separated by a solid wall, I heard the craziest stories. While they were speaking, I was taking notes, scribbling so fast that my hand was blue with ink by its end.

The second rule we’ll discover in another article is about finding the values that define your fictional characters. This is a very challenging part, so don’t blink, or you’ll miss it!

Keep reading my stories here and see you soon!

Daniele Frau

The characters

The soul of your story

Welcome to the most exciting writing journey part: the creation of characters. This is the moment you were preparing for, the two minutes of glory for your never forgotten underlying schizophrenic side. Yes, because if you are a writer, maybe you experienced speaking by yourself multiple times and not necessarily under the shower.

Characters, by Daniele Frau.

In the middle of the night

Correct me if I’m wrong, ok? You wake up suddenly in the middle of the night with the urge to scribble an idea. Ordinary people keep a water bottle close to their bed, but you don’t. Oh no, you have a piece of paper and a pen/pencil, right?

That sensation, the urge to put your idea down, is so intense that you cannot wait until morning. Then, if you’re lucky, you go to sleep. In your dreams, that story you had in mind, that tiny seed starts flourishing, growing slowly in your deepest fantasies. But it gets all trapped there, unfortunately.

True story, true characters

When you wake up in the morning, you take the piece of paper as written by an alien hand. True story, once I woke up with this written close to my face:

“G. is a spider born in a butterfly body. He ruminates about his former life while she sees a spider going slowly down to eat her. She doesn’t remember the spider language. Death.”

I remember it made me sick the whole day. I was writing something else, and suddenly I heard the screaming of the poor butterfly trying to remember her old language to save her life.

All this to say that all writers, deep inside, are troubled. We have so many issues and we’re not shy to put them on paper for strangers to judge us. However, there’s nothing more exciting than creating new, compelling characters. One thing I really despise is when an excellent plot has a flow in the characters’ construction.

You notice that, strangely, all the characters start meeting up only between themselves. Sometimes some new character arrives, as a cameo or a funny twist as in Friends and then it disappears.

Yes, I know I don’t have to expect much in a serial with pre-recorded laughing. Still, you can see when the characters are just flat figures moving their lips automatically.

Suppose a character is a poor skill-less actor. In that case, the best twist possible is to make him completely different, not indulge in his poor skill quality and stupidity until the end of time. And that’s precisely what happens.

The reasons?

People love these flat characters, they say. I don’t know about that. You can be lucky once or twice if people really start loving those characters for what they are and don’t want them to change. Though, most of the time, you just start digging your grave. 

So, now let’s start working on our character building and we’ll do so follow a book that I believe is one of the best in the market. For sure, it was a life-changer for me for many reasons.

A simple, economical way to auto-psycho-analyze your tiny writer’s brain.

I’m talking about the book Getting into the character by Brandlyin Collins.

Keep reading my stories here

See you soon!

Daniele Frau

Build your tree

Start from the roots

We realize how easy it is to start writing a story, having the right tools. But what is the content of your story? It comes from your everyday life, inspired by something you witnessed once, or some social problem? You need to ask yourself where the inspiration comes from to realize which tone is better to use. 

Your roots

Roots, image by Daniele Frau.
Roots, image by Daniele Frau.

These are your roots, the base from which you will build your story and the way you find inspiration afterward. Let’s talk about the inspiration for a moment. We’ve grown with the idea that we need a specific sparkle to write, a magic moment. Without that, we imagine the writers sitting in their rooms, desperate, in front of their typewriters. It’s not exactly like that.

Yes, you can have some blank moments, periods where you have nothing to say. Well, that’s the best moment for you; take this as a vacation, write ideas, and make your life full of experience, so then you’ll start writing again. Inspiration is a myth, solid and difficult to erase from people’s imagination, but still a myth. When I don’t have anything to say on a certain topic, I switch to another one. I start writing about mathematics, science, and economics. I write about topics far from my usual niche, and an idea naturally pops out.

For instance, a few days ago, I wrote an essay about international investments and wham! Something strikes my mind, an original idea about a real estate man that lives in the streets. The main secret here is the first rule every writer always has to keep in mind: 

Write, write, write.

If you don’t write, you won’t be able to clearly understand your limits, your common errors and as we said, you’ll feel increasingly tired of writing. See it like you were going to the gym. The more you go to do sport, the more you want to, because you feel your body is responding immediately. It’s precisely the same when you start writing, then you want to write more and more. 

Solid roots

So, you have an idea of a real estate agent living in the streets. Now you need to understand which tone you will use to describe the situation. It will be something like Jean Claude Izzo in Les soleil des mourants, or you would try a political angle? Do you want to write in a sarcastic-dark humor tone, as Jonas Jonasson? After you realize that everything will be easy, your pen will scribble so fast on the paper, faster than your thoughts.

Then, it’s time to write your characters. But this is a story for another time.

See you, people! As always, send me messages or comments here below and I’ll be glad to answer all of your questions.

Do you want to read some of my stories? Check them out!

Daniele Frau

Let’s play with words

There’s nothing like playing with words

In my previous article, I spoke about the most challenging part of writing a story. In the beginning, the beginning. So, how to go over this first scary step?

Snowflake

Yes, the snowflake method was one of the most helpful methods I’ve ever tried as a beginner. You have a story in mind and that story is nothing more than some vivid sensations and a bunch of perfect phrases you noted. But that’s not enough, clearly.

What happens next?

Most of the time, what happens next is you staring at a blank page. It seems you have everything in hand to start, but the key doesn’t turn and the engine is stuck. You check the gasoline (ideas) and discover the tank is full. So, what’s the problem? Let’s open the hood of the car, shall we? Hm, that’s the problem, you’re missing all the cables that connect the engine to the car. That’s why it wasn’t doing anything when you turned the key.

Let’s find the cables

The cables are easy to find. We just need to put them in the right place. Let’s leave the car similitude for a moment. For example, the best place to start is to write down in 15 words what is your story about. Suddenly, you realise you didn’t think it through. Your story is somewhere in your head, but it isn’t clear. Not having a straightforward plot in mind from the beginning is why you cannot move from your parking spot (oh, I’m back to the car simile).

Play with words

Play with words, write your story.
Play with words

We all know how difficult it is to write an entire story in 15 words. Too many things are missing! Plus, you have to write it in a way that sounds interesting to a reader and seems even more complex. I can tell you two of my favourite exercises to improve your 15-words writing:

  • read as many movie descriptions as you can and try to describe movies that you know by heart 
  • try to write epitaphs about people you knew or famous people

For example, this is how Forrest Gump is described in Britannica.com:

“Forrest Gump, American film, released in 1994, that chronicled 30 years (from the 1950s through the early 1980s) of the life of a intellectually disabled man (played by Tom Hanks) in an unlikely fable that earned critical praise, large audiences, and six Academy Awards, including best picture.”

How you can make it in 15 words?

The chronicle of 30 years of the life of an intellectually disabled man (1950s- 1980s).

Yes, there are a lot of things missing. This is precisely my point. Now you need to add. Divide this 15-words-description into 4 parts (beginning, development, middle, finale).

  1. Forrest is an intellectually disabled child who discovers he can do some extraordinary things.
  2. Forrest goes to war, understands he loves one girl and loses his best friend, Bubba.
  3. The girl he loves continues to escape from him. Forrest is lucky and gets a millionaire.
  4. The girl he loves returns, they have a child together and then she dies.

I know what you’re thinking: “where is the bench, that famous beautiful bench?” 

Nowhere, now, but the exercise isn’t finished here. We need to make each part of the story divided into 4 phrases, 15 phrases long. In this way, we can start speaking about him sitting on a bench and speaking to a stranger, his disabilities and his single mum believing in him, and his crush on Jenny. Step by step, your story starts to be interesting. 

What’s next?

Start doing some exercises, put some ideas together and write your famous first 15 words. Your story will start growing on an excellent base.

Read some of my stories here and tell me what you think about them.

To be continued!