I'm autistic and been struggling trying to write a kid's story but it's not working. Iiaat that I can't seem to understand story structure, or how the basic outline of story structure is actually achieved when writing? I understand books really well, but when it comes to me trying to write, I can't make sense of it. Plus I'm supposed to "show, don't tell" but isn't a story in the telling? Plus I only know how my brain works and don't understand how others' work. Should I stop trying to write?
First off: If you want to write, keep writing! Everything else is really secondary to that. If you like writing, write.
Story structure is hard. It’s really hard. The “basic outline” of a three act structure or the hero’s journey or basically anything has never worked for me. I have a hard time even trying to retrofit stories to those outlines/structures. It’s likely that being autistic does affect our ability to figure it out, but that doesn’t mean we can’t write.
Since you’re trying to write a kid’s story, you can go with a simple plot. Settle on a main character and their goal/what they want. Throw in a few complications or delays for them to accomplishing that goal before they accomplish it (or don’t depending on how you want the story to go).
Also, I am horrible about actually including a coherent plot in my initial rough draft. I tend to just write along whatever ideas I have and weld a plot together when I do a rewrite because I have all the information to actually figure it out at that point. It’s not something anyone really recommends, but it works for me, so I do it.
It took a lot of trial and error to figure out what works for me. I tried a lot of different approaches and read a lot of advice. Some of it helped, some of it didn’t. The only way to figure it out though, is to keep writing.
As for the “show don’t tell” it’s a rather tricky thing that takes a long time to really figure out. It’s more about being a reminder to add in description and show the characters doing things rather than just saying something happened. Basically: there needs to be enough description for the reader to know what’s going on rather than feeling like they’re getting a summary or second hand account of events. It’s basically a quick phrase to remind a write how to tell the story.
And as far as figuring out how others’ brains work- I’m guessing that’s talking about writing characters that are different from yourself and feel real, that’s also a thing that kind of just takes writing to figure out how to do. I know I think most of my characters are bland and the same, but one of the things I routinely get compliments on is how I manage to have such distinct characters.
But, I really only got to the point I’m at now because I spent so much time writing and stumbling around trying to figure it out. And I only did that because I enjoyed writing.
So basically: If you want to write, Write. Try different things and figure out what works for you. You don’t have to be good at writing to enjoy it. If you want to write, write, the skills will follow with practice.