Bridge to Story

Types of Stories to Tell

Some instructors say there are only two types of stories to tell:

  • Someone takes a journey
  • A stranger comes to town

Others have written books saying here are 7 types, 14, and types into the hundreds.

But for novice fiction writers, I think there are three types of stories, that precede those famous two:

  • The Borrowed Tale
  • The Created Universe
  • The Unwritten Story

I think novices may one day get to the point where they are writing one of the two types of stories to tell. But I feel they begin with the other three. It isn't a bad thing. All writers begin somewhere....

The borrowed: These are sometimes called Fan Fiction novices. A novice uses the characters from books, movies or TV and writes stories surrounding characters they have not made up themselves. They borrow characters and settings and plots.

The created: These are word-building novices. They create an entire world. And give it to you in a 100,000+ word piece, and that's only volume I. Nothing is left to the imagination. They write it all down for you.

The unwritten: As I said in a much earlier topic, these novices tend to have disk files or notebooks full of exercises. But not nearly as many finished short stories or complete novels under their belt.

Are you stuck at the level of the THREE types of stories novices tell? Or are you ready to move on to the two types of stories?

Example Toggle


There is no example for this topic - you should recognize by now which type of story you are or want to be telling. So move onto the exercise now.

Lesson Exercise 1 Toggle

Lesson Exercise 1:

Are you working here?:

The Borrowed:

For Fan Fiction novices, I can only suggest you try to move into worlds of your own. Using characters from books, movies or TV may feel natural. But give yourself the option of moving on. It will take work, not being derivative of popular work. But try it. Your job is to learn to risk your own vision.

Or stuck here:

The Created:

Yes, you have the vision to create wholly new universes. But look to the novelist you love most. And don't stick to only one (that might be a cop out). Look to many. And ask yourself, are each of their works of wonder as lengthy as yours - not in word count, but in what is told? Do they dwell as you do on each minute point of your universe. You job is to learn to edit for brevity.

Or here:

The Unwritten:

Perhaps the novice with the 'best' problem, this novice needs to simply leap into the world you are holding yourself away from. Start small if you must. But commit to finishing 

Tell your story –  one you must make up from scratch, one you need to trim down to  tell, or simply one that hasn’t gotten to the page yet.