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Top 10 Ways to Visualize Your Story
by Samantha Stone

There are as many ways to visualize your story as there are to organizing and writing a novel. Some writers can jump into a story and write straight to the end. Most writers can't do that.

Plot arcs and character arcs can be used, but an overall story arc needs visualization. Everything else can run alongside it, but you must be able to see the story to write it.

How do you see the words before you write them? Use a few piecemeal tricks to get a good view of your story before your write it. Below are 10 ways to help you get the bigger picture.

1. Overall Story Tone

How do you want the reader to feel at the end? Uplifted? Enchanted? Depending on how you want to leave the reader, you'll need to instill a tone within your story. Decide on the ending emotion so you can begin building toward it.

2. Lines and Sine Waves

Sine waves and lines are generally used to show the rising and falling points in a story. Plot your story points on that slope with your inciting incident, rising actions, and then level with the climax, followed by the drop of action.

3. Staircase Visuals

Another variation is to use a ladder or staircase symbolism. Again, you start with your launching point near the beginning of the story – bottom rung of the ladder or first step of the staircase – and then plant your plot on ever rising rungs or steps. At the top, your landing is the climax and epiphany where the goal is reached or the prize is awarded. After that, the downside of the ladder or staircase is a long, quick step down as the action falls within your plot until you reach the bottom, perhaps the return home.

4. A Clear Beginning

Make your first scenes clear and brilliant. Show your main character and location to give the reader an instant moment of establishment. This opening scene should set the stage for the rest of the story.

5. Identifying the Launching Point

This should come early in the novel. The inciting incident propels your character into becoming a pivotal part of the plot. He or she can be reluctant, but they must move forward.

6. Clarifying Muddled Middles

Your middle scenes of the story are where everything happens to progress to the goal of the plot. While everything must move the storyline forward, you can still drop in setbacks to foil your protagonist. Visualizing your story's middle with plot-points will help you keep it focused and moving.

7. Moment of Truth

Even if yours isn't an action-thriller, the big scene must be important to the character and worth the effort of getting there. There must be a real chance that the character will fail or the prize slip away. This is the high point of any curve or ladder of scenes.

8. Yields and Stops

Just after the climax, the moment of epiphany or seizing of the prize, there can come a lull of action or even a total halt. The hero now has a moment to catch their breath or take in the magnitude of the situation. This is next followed by the drop in action. Your visual is on its way down.

9. Tangible Tactics

Use sensory devices to give your readers a picture. Include scents or odors and temperature or season to help the reader get a feel for the moment. Was it light or dark? Warm? Cold? Rain? Even déjà vu is generally a collection of similar sensory perceptions that give a person a feeling of 'been there before' because the senses are picking up familiarities from another moment.

10. Point-of-View Pros and Cons

Using a general point-of-view like second- or third-person can give you more options for visual cues. First-person can have a biased feeling, but if it works for your storyline, use it. First-person can endear readers to that character, creating empathy and emotional attachment.

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