S is for Story
STORYWhere do stories come from?
The newspaper, current events, your life, dreams, your imagination. Sometimes a snippet of an idea or image is enough to get you started. You simply must be open to them, and paying attention. It might be unusual, or it could be something mundane that everyone can relate to.
There are universal themes that can add great impact to your story, such as birth, death, betrayal, revenge, desire, courage, and love. Additionally, certain themes resonate more with us than others. Not sure what yours are? Try making a list of your favorite books or movies. See if they have anything in common. Or, if you can't think of anything, start now. Every time you watch or read something you love, write it down. Analyze these works to determine what the themes are. If you've been writing for a bit, see if there is a pattern in your own work. Once you've figured out what your life-themes are, you can think of them as your creative secret weapons. They may inspire you in a deeper way than other themes, and make stories more powerful. If you want to take it a step further, start a Pinterest page with images that enchant, or, better yet--haunt--you. Want to do it old school? Pictures from magazines work, too.
Many writers carry a little book (or keep notes on their phone or iPad) to jot down details that intrigue them, to use one day. If you start a title file, and add new titles every time you think of a good one, you'll have a ready well of creative titles to choose from, too.
But most importantly?
If you get an idea, WRITE IT DOWN!
You probably won't remember it later.
“Stories make us more alive, more human, more courageous, more loving.”
― Madeleine L'Engle
“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.”
― Philip Pullman
“It's like Tolstoy said. Happiness is an allegory, unhappiness a story.”
― Haruki Murakami,
“Stories you read when you're the right age never quite leave you. You may forget who wrote them or what the story was called. Sometimes you'll forget precisely what happened, but if a story touches you it will stay with you, haunting the places in your mind that you rarely ever visit.”
― Neil Gaiman,
Kurt Vonnegut on Writing Stories
Neil Gaiman on Story Ideas
New Yorker Robert McKee Interview
"There are books full of great writing that don't have very good stories. Read sometimes for the story...read sometimes for the words--the language...but when you find a book that has both a good story and good words, treasure that book.”