Storytelling is ultimately a creative act of pattern recognition. Through characters, plot, and setting, a writer creates places where previously invisible truths become visible. Or the storyteller posits a series of dots that the reader can connect. Douglas Coupland

I was raised in a family of storytellers and never thought of a story as a dot-to-dot, but there seems to be some truth to this quote by Douglas Coupland, novelist, designer, and artist.

When I write a story I follow a formula of if this happens what is the logical thing to happen next – one thought leading to the next. Imagining a conversation between characters with their quirks and writing it can be a challenge. But by taking one sentence (sometimes one word) and then thinking about what is the logical response, I develop a conversation.

To write an action scene, it the same thing. If this happens what happens next. Even in the world of fantasy, there are rules by which the imaginary world works. Using these rules to formulate what happens next, keeps the story moving and holds the scene together.

So are authors really dot-to-dot creators?


So what happens next?

As a child I was taught about sequencing – what happens next; if this then that; etc. I never gave it much thought but over the years, I have come to appreciate being able to answer these types of questions to help resolve problems and situations that are encountered every day.

When writing, the answers to these questions helps to move a story along. These answers will provide conversation between characters and results to actions (or inaction).Texas Tarantula

When trying to figure out where to start a story ask “What happens if ____”. Then by using the sequencing questions your story will move right along.

For my story, Canyon Riddle, I thought about a time my family was camping and my young sons had a scary adventure that involved learning that tarantulas can jump straight up in the air. I asked, “What if they had found a skeleton rather than a tarantula?”  The story grew from there. Always keeping in the forefront the sequencing questions helps to keep me on track.

When you are writing what do you use to get you started?