As I am preparing for Camp NaNo*, I have been working on my story file. It occurred to me this might not be common or popular practice. “Story File” is a name I gave it and maybe some of y’all have a different name with the same contents.
My Story File contains everything about my story that doesn’t go in the outline.
It’s broken up into major categories and specific templates. So without further ado, here is how I structure my Story File.
- Estimated Total Length (word count)
- Draft Length Goal (word count)
- Character Bank
- Main characters and brief, one-sentence descriptions with ages
Themes and Character Development
- Central Question
- The Yes/No question that is being asked through the whole story
- Should have objective qualities, rather than subjective
- i.e. “Will they fall in love?” (subjective) vs. “Will they leave their partners and become a couple?” (objective)
- Thematic Questions
- These are the internal conflict questions that reside in your character(s) and your story
- ex. “Can there really be a successful government?”
- ex. “Does grief excuse bad actions?”
- Themes at a Glance
- Words or phrases that relate to the themes of the story
- ex. person vs. nature
- ex. isolation
- ex. grief
- ex. first love
- Motivation / Stasis State / Final State
- for each main character, you should write a sentence or two pertaining to these three things
- Motivation: What is the drive behind this character and their past, present, and future actions? What part of their background makes them the way that they are? What are they looking for? What do they want out of this/a situation?
- Stasis State: What are they like before the inciting incident? What problems and questions do they have?
- Final State: What has changed about them and their outlook? What questions have they resolved? What has happened to their internal conflict?
- I usually make a little web of the MCs and their relationship to one another. One for the stasis and one for final.
- Stasis: How do these characters see each other? How do they act toward the other? (All before the inciting incident)
- Final: How do these characters see each other now? How has their idea of one another shifted?
- Even if a character dies before the end, include the most recent relationship status in the Final web.
- ex. this is how I organize it, using the Draw feature of Google Docs
This is just a very preliminary character bank. If you prefer a more in-depth one, check out my 6 Box Method.
Per (relevant/important) character:
- Nickname/preferred name
- Personal History
- Education/Occupation History
- Extra Notes:
- Seasons and Climate
- Other Cultural Pockets
- Folklore and Legends
- Fine Arts
- Dress and Modesty
- Currency and Economics
- Agriculture and Livestock
- Imports and Exports
- Literature, Pop Culture, and Entertainment
- Food and Water
- Holidays and Festivals
- Family and Parenting
- Religion and Beliefs
- Health and Medicine
- Technology and Communication
- Plants, Animals, and Human-environment Interaction
- Beauty Standards
- Gender and Sexuality
I hope this helps y’all and supplements what you’re probably already doing. I know it’s helped me tons to have everything in a central place.
Best of luck!