However, I hate to disappoint you, but every new story begins the same way: a blank sheet of paper. Of course, that’s the basic tyranny of the writer. Every day, the scribe sits before a blank sheet of paper or perhaps a blank screen on his computer and starts to place words on that blank slate. And those words eventually lead to either a great story or something that needs to be thrown away. So, what is my advice? Make friends with the blank page and learn to love the potential that lies before you.
There are several elements that are necessary to begin to tell a story. The first is the group of characters that populate your story. Every story involves at least one character. Two or three others, either present or implied, may be added. But every story must have one main character (your “hero”) around whom the story revolves. Usually there is a villain, or the person who tries to stop the hero from accomplishing what he must. However, the villain may not be another person per se but rather can be anything that prevents the hero from accomplishing her goal. And the villain might very well be the hero herself. And as one might suspect, another main character often found in stories is a love interest, or someone for whom the hero finds it necessary or worthwhile to fight for. This other character is important enough to the hero that he may be willing to sacrifice his own life for her. This might be a person, an animal, or an ideal of some kind. But, in the story it is still a character in the sense that he (she or it) is the object of the hero’s affection.
Another element a writer may use is the various incidents that happen during the story. Many writers utilize 3x5 or 4x6 note cards to keep track of these incidents while planning the story. Personally, I use an I-Pad to write. I often utilize an app called "Index Card" (produced by DenVog, LLC). That program allows me to use the flexibility of a set of 4x6 note cards on which I place a brief description of the action that will take place in that chapter or scene.
The app also provides a place for extensive notes concerning the actions and characters involved. And I can also write the entire scene or chapter on a space connected to the card. Then when I'm done, I simply export what I've done to RTF format and I'm ready to import into either Pages or Word or Final Draft.
Whatever you use is not important. That you have a series of events or obstacles for your hero to overcome during the course of the story is important. A secret to Hollywood writing is that these incidents should get harder as the story goes along then climax with what appears to be an impossible situation that your hero must overcome. After this incident, your story should then come to an end. And just what happens during that ending is also important to your story. Oh, and the same basic format, or structure, is followed when writing any fictional story such as in a novel or short story or whatever.
Now, I challenge you to read any classic novel or even a modern screenplay. In them you will find one person struggling against all odds to prevent some catastrophic result from occurring that usually involves someone very special to the main character. And this rule runs true whether you are writing a mystery, a thriller, a comedy, an adventure, or any other genre. Even if you are writing children's fantasy utilizing animals as the characters, the rule still holds true. Audiences are held in their seats watching characters fight for their own lives and find it impossible to move when they are fighting for the life of someone they love. Oh, by the way, remember that a story can be about a woman struggling against all odds to achieve her goals.
With that said, let’s now turn to the reason why you are writing: to tell a story! Let me begin by discouraging you from sitting down to write the next blockbuster because the chances of that manuscript ever being published in book form or produced for the movies, no matter how good it may be is between none and none whatsoever.
When you think of a novel, the explosion of self-publishing has flooded the market with novels that okay, not good, bad, and really awful. The cost of publishing and marketing has risen so much over the years since 2000, that many publishers no longer even look at new writer's material. Instead, many are now perusing the self-published market to see what sells and then approaching those authors.
When it comes to writing a movie script, a Hollywood producer (the person with the money to make the film) will only look at scripts that he/she has had a hand in developing or from a highly successful screenwriter that is recognized as a money-maker or from an A-list actor who has come up with a great idea for a story. A lone screenwriter that no one in Hollywood has ever heard of has a one-in-a-million (or more) shot at writing a blockbuster that will be produced for thirty or forty million dollars.
Yet, with that said, please don't let me be the reason you choose not to write. If you must write, then write. If the product is good enough to be published, then an agent or editor will recognize the worthiness of the work and someone will publish that story. The chances of getting published and making a living at writing is greater than winning the lottery. So, write! Write often! Make time to write. Even if you write a blog on a website, at least write something and work toward making your writing easy to read, easy to understand, and fascinating enough to keep people to the end--which is what I'm hoping has happened here.
Face the blank page and then conquer it! You can do it if you set your mind, talent and skills to accomplishing it. Good luck!