The Formula to Writing a Compelling Story

Written by Bella Clyde ‘21
Lindsay Wong, a published Canadian author, visited the Grade 12 Writer’s Craft class as part of the introduction to their Fiction unit. Lindsay discussed her experience being a published author and led a story-development workshop.

Lindsay grew up in Vancouver and her story The Woo-Woo is a memoir detailing her experiences with mental health and growing up with her “crazy” Chinese immigrant family. Lindsay expressed her disappointment when multiple publishing companies rejected the book and when it was finally published, how she thought no one would read it. In her steady and soft-spoken tone, Lindsay emphasized the importance of resilience throughout the publishing process. She went from being an author of a novel that was deemed ‘not relatable’ to the novel becoming a bestselling debut memoir.

In her story-development workshop, Lindsay explained that she often struggles to design fiction stories due to her inability to choose a plot. However, after being nominated to write fiction stories for events, she has developed her fool-proof formula to produce an idea. She focuses on the character. Lindsay explained that every story is just a character placed in a unique situation and by meeting that character, the storyline will produce itself. She began by asking the class simple scenario questions: “Your character sees a student sitting alone. What do they do?” And then more profound questions: “What is your character’s secret?” The answers students gave to these contemplative questions revealed the inner depths of their character. She then asked students to place their characters in a situation that would challenge them, producing a compelling and complex story.

The pandemic may restrict us, but Lindsay Wong’s simple presence over Google Meet prompted students to travel: to fight an alien invasion, to join the secret service, and to help a friend combat evil. These strange times may be physically restraining, however, no one is ever trapped with the help of a story.
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