A big proportion of the population has aspired to write at some stage in their lives, be it novel, short story or fiction – everyone has a story they want to tell. However crafting narrative and character development is a difficult skill which takes knowledge and experience to execute. Getting a lot of experience before you start trying to structure a setting is a good idea.
So how does one go about getting experience at creating narrative and character development?
I say write some fan fiction, if you like Star Wars, write in the Star Wars Universe, if you like Harry Potter, write in Hogwarts, if you like Tolkien, write in Middle Earth! There are so many great settings to choose from, the only valid excuse for NOT using a popular established setting is if you intend to publish commercially, otherwise save yourself hours of work and write in a pre-made setting!
Whether it’s Harry Potter, Star Wars, Star Trek or even a classic like Lord of the Rings, there are some great well established settings in which to base your story. You don’t even have to base it in the established popular time of the setting, you could write Star Wars 500 years before or after the battle of Yavin, or Lord of the Rings after the events of the Return of the King, the important thing is you have a framework, a setting in which you can practice narrative and character development.
Another challenge when writing is the challenge of being able to sit down consistently and write large blocks of text. A popular way to practice writing is something the internet writing community refers to as roleplaying. This isn’t an activity that requires dice or pens and paper and mountains of complex rule books, it’s effectively collaborative writing.
Right, so how does one ‘roleplay’? Basically you decide who you want to play, describe them, then starting writing what they will do and say. Others write their characters into your story. You take it in turns to write, building up the story, everyone writing their own character.
This is a fantastic method of keeping a story on the boil, because even if it isn’t your turn, you get the excitement of thinking about what somebody elses character will do or say, and it gives you readers, they have to read your writing so they can react to it!
Do a google search for your favourite franchise and roleplaying or fan fiction, all over the net there are places covering every setting you might want to write in. Find one that sounds intresting, join up and start crafting stories. You’ll meet new friends, have a lot of fun, and probably significantly improve your writing.