Story Logistics: What They Are And Why You Need Them Implemented In Your Writing

 

 

What is logistics?

 

The detailed organization and implementation of a complex operation.

 

What now?

 

The detailed organization and implementation of a complex operation.

 

So that means…

 

You must have a detailed explanation to how things happen in your story.


I’m sure you’re thinking, “Well, duh!” but not so fast. I didn’t know story logistics were a real thing until I beta read 2 different stories by 2 different authors. See below:

 

STORY A: The writer had their character swim through a river, through a narrow rock tunnel, to end up in a cave. Inside this cave was a full-sized bed.

 

THE LOGISTICAL ISSUE: How did the bed get into the cave? Assuming someone actually put it there and it wasn’t just constructed as part of the natural landscape the writer fashioned for the story, how did this person drag this mattress through the river and through the narrow tunnel to put it in the cave?

 

STORY B: A fire started in a room in a castle. The setting so far has lacked all sense of modernization (no electricity, indoor plumbing, etc.) The main character runs inside the castle and sees this fire, and sees servants dumping buckets of water to put it out.

 

THE LOGISTICAL ISSUE: How are they getting water to put the fire out? Lacking modern conveniences like indoor plumbing and the writer stating they were using buckets, I would have to assume they would race outside to the nearest well/river to retrieve the water, but there was no mention of that. Simply “they dumped buckets of water on the fire.”

 

Lacking story logistics is a common problem among new writers. I’ve seen it in my own early writings and in other stories I’ve beta read. The WHAT is present (bed in a cave, using water to put out the fire) but there is no HOW (how did the bed get there? How did they get water to put out the fire?)

 

HOW TO SPOT LOGISTICAL ISSUES:

 

Consider your own writing. Pick one thing in your story, doesn’t matter what, and ask it HOW. If you don’t have a DETAILED explanation to the IMPLEMENTATION to the HOW, you have a logistical issue. Let’s review the definition of logistics again: The detailed organization and implementation of a complex operation.

 

HOW TO FIX LOGISTICAL ISSUES:

 

Ready for the magical answer? Simply provide a detailed implementation to the HOW of your subject. See below:

 

EXAMPLE: This building which has feels of medieval, has indoor plumbing for showers. HOW do they get water into the building for showers without modern technology?

ANSWER: A bell would ring on the first floor upon the pull of the chain in the ceiling to signal the workers to man a pump to pull water from the boiler. The pumps would push the water through pipes to spray water out like a rain shower on top of the bather. (Excerpt pulled from my fantasy novel, The War Queen)

 

EXAMPLE: Lacking electricity in the story, HOW does she curl her hair?

ANSWER: Ratavia looked askance at her and slipped thick, rubber-studded gloves over her hands. She then pulled a ceramic bowl filled with short metal cylinders out of the

embers of the fire and brought it to the vanity. (She uses the cylinders heated in the fire to curl her hair.)

 

THE “STORY HOUSE” LOGISTICAL STRUCTURE

 

Imagine your story is a two-level house WITHOUT a staircase connecting the two levels. If you are on the first floor, you don’t just “go upstairs” because there is no way to GET you upstairs. The lack of a stair case is your logistical issue. A lot of writers neglect/forget they are lacking a staircase and without the detailed implementation of getting to the second floor, their characters simply “go upstairs” without the clear method as to HOW. Adding the staircase will fix your logistical issue.

WHY WRITERS SOMETIMES NEGLECT (NOT FORGET) TO ADD THE STAIRCASE

 

As I’ve said, I didn’t even know story logistics was a real thing until those two cases in the two stories I read jumped out at me, and then I realized I’ve been seeing it all along. I just didn’t have a collective term I could’ve stamped on it to recognize for later. I think story logistics is such an issue for young writers because answering the HOW (adding the staircase) is hard. Writing isn’t supposed to be hard. It’s supposed to be fun. And because writers only want it to be fun, they skip the explanation for the HOW (failing to add the staircase) and go straight to the WHAT (going upstairs). Because it’s easy.

 

WHAT DOES THE “HOW” MATTER, ANYWAY?

 

It matters because we must make fiction realistically explainable. Readers will believe the impossible before the improbable. The more realistically explainable you make it feel, the better quality of story you provide, and answering the how and adding that staircase makes it realistic.

 

I know answering the HOW is hard. I’ve completed 7 books answering that same question. How do you sneak into a town when it’s walled off, gated, and patrolled? You might be tempted to answer just the WHAT and write some glib thing like, “He snuck into town, avoiding the guards.” That’s the WHAT. The HOW is 2 chapters worth of him creating a potion which will turn him invisible, and building his upper body strength so he can climb the wall by using 2 daggers stabbed into the wood, hand over hand, until he’s up and over the wall.

 

Hard? Long? Of course. But the more realistically explainable your story, the better quality your story. But if you don’t care about quality, then don’t care about grammar or spelling either.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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