“What’s your story about?”

Do you dread being asked this question? Never know how to answer? Or do you waffle on for far too long until you realise the eyes of the person who asked have kind of glazed over and you just know they regret opening their mouth? 

Don’t worry. You’re not alone. This is what passion does to writers — it either reduces us to a deer in the headlights or gives us verbal diarrhoea. Unfortunately, being able to explain what your story is about comes with the territory of being a writer. Even if you manage to evade the question from friends and family, there will eventually come a time when you need to capture the attention of editors, publishers, readers and reviewers — and in order to get their attention, you’re going to have to explain what your story is about in a way that is both engaging and succinct.

Before you get to that point, however, you need to develop your story idea. Now, you’ve already considered your story in broad terms by developing a thematic statement; in this section you’re going to breathe life into that statement and get a little more specific. You’ll grab on to the seed of an idea, plant it, water it and nurture it until you have the makings of your story. This step in the story-planning process will finally have you getting your hands dirty — metaphorically, speaking.