Your blog correspondent is foregoing a bump in swell to visit an international school today to give tips on writing stories.
If you want to know, the key principle is simple: You main character has something he or she really wants. But as she tries to get it, somebody (or something) else stops her from getting it. This conflict (or series of conflicts) is the beating heart of a good story. Then at the end she gets what she wants but in an unexpected way.
So, off the top of my head, let’s try it.
Our main character Hugo is a mild-mannered accountant who really wants to go on a surfing holiday. Hugo asks his boss for time off. His boss says Hugo can have all the time he wants as he’s fired. Well, Hugo has enough money saved to do the trip and look for another job. But then he finds his wife has spent all the money, says she is in love with Hugo’s best friend, and wants a divorce. Hugo is determined to go on this surf trip, so he asks his father for money. His dad refuses. So Hugo borrows from a loan shark – and off he goes for a two-week surf charter trip in the Mentawais.
But when he arrives in Padang to board the boat, who should be on the trip but his ex-bestfriend and wife’s boyfriend. Hugo’s wife has spent Hugo’s money on this scumbug so he could have a surf trip.
Anyway, off they go—and a few hours out the engine breaks down and they have to limp into port. Twenty four hours later, it’s fixed and they finally sail all night and arrive at a remote isolated jungle spot the skipper says only he knows about. Waves are gorgeous and fun – but there’s also a surf camp on the point who claim exclusive access. What’s worse, it’s a surf camp for Stand Up Paddlers. And the loan-shark who loaned Hugo the money is one of the SUP guests – and Hugo has already missed his first repayment. Hugo tells the skipper let’s just move on find someplace else, but the skipper is one of those psycho hotheads who snarls, “Nobody can tell me what to do,” and storms down to a hidey-hole and emerges with an AK-47…