May 14

Got a story? Here’s how to make it three

In preschool, your story can be and should be very simple. Some people find coming up with stories very tough but the truth is, more often than not, the problem is not finding the story, it’s realising that you’ve actually got several stories in there. The focus to stick with a single, clear story is usually much harder then coming up with stories to begin with.

So why shouldn’t you have more than one story running through your preschool content? That’s easy: clarity. The more elements in your story, the more chance of it becoming messy. It depends on the length and structure of course but you can’t end up with a jumble of ideas. That’s true anywhere but especially in preschool. Your audience needs to be so absolutely clear on what is happening, what the core idea is, what the consequence of each action is and why every character is doing what they do. And you won’t be there to explain it to them.

Sure, you can have little asides. Little extras. But your core story idea? That’s a single idea.

A lot of us are what I call ‘kitchen sink’ writers. Everything goes in as we work up an idea. That’s fine as long as we have the focus and clarity to pull out the unnecessary as we work. Anything that does not serve that central idea should be removed. That can be a lot harder than it seems – preschool sometimes has this perception of being easy because the content is simple, and that’s exactly why it is anything but easy. Simple is hard to do. When I’ve seen writers struggle in preschool, it’s almost never because they can’t find a story. It’s because they’re trying to tell too many.

So pull your stories apart. Got something that feels like a second story thread in there? Great – pull it out and bank it, there’s a whole other episode for you to write later. Got a third story idea muddling things up? Take that out too. Now you’ve got three stories. Before long, you’ll have a series. And this is the real positive here, the one way to motivate yourself to really strip those stories. It’s not that you’re losing story ideas. You’re gaining whole new stories. Keep every idea. The more story threads you can pull out of your current work, the more stories you have banked for later.

Ideas aren’t the problem. It’s the focus to stick with just one. So pull the stories apart.

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