Letting the story come to you. Take a few moments to think about a story you are considering. What presents itself to you, at first? Is it a word, an idea, an image? Just for fun, write a sentence that sums up your first dip. When you are done, we’ll move on.
Story dynamics. Whether fictional or tangible, story is a narrative told by a storyteller to a receptive audience. These three elements work together to form a dynamic framework where each pillar calibrates the other two to reach optimal story form. The model gives us simple handles to assess, alter, and rebalance the pieces of storytelling. A successful story involves a well choreographed dance between the three pillars: a well-crafted story, an effective storyteller, and a receptive audience. In story building it’s all about artifice and craft.
Story, then, is a packet of narration that contains character, setting, plot and all the basic elements needed to create an effective story form. The storyteller is the creator of the story as well as its teller to the audience. The audience receives the story from the teller and is informed by the story form. I make these points clear here so that we can use them deftly as we play with story elements, rewrite, revise and sharpen the aim of the story. [This is probably the last thing you want to think about when you are embarking into the dreamscape of your story, AS IT SHOULD BE.]
Story presents itself to you in different ways, and some aren’t stories at all. Stories often present themselves to me as a nonverbal brain dump. When this happens, I capture what I can in dotted lists. When you try to capture a word or two about the images, the whole idea slips away. I simply capture key words, cartoons, or pointers as I capture the dump.
A story may arrive as a character who haunts your memory or a stranger who seems out of place. Unexplained or erroneous facts can frustrate you into a story as you seek a resolution. A curious sunset that slips into a darkened sea might serve as a landscape to explore. Story can arise from actions, people, settings, time or timeslips. The possibility of story blossoms all around you. Each step of your journey is noted in a pad. Where you write a summarized thought in a sentence, you form a bookmark in your mind.
These bookmarks will start you on a journey from your point of entry to the end of your story. We will interrogate, interview, and test to follow the story elements as they reveal new possibilities. We will push them to converge with other elements to make the story whole
It does not matter where you start your story, it will work to reveal its treasure. That is, IF the elements arise from your passion, sourced in the depths of your heart, your soul or however you think of your writing well. The images or ideas or people or settings you have jotted down must pull at you in a very personal way.
As it turns out, most of my storytelling issues lay in the realm of AUDIENCE. I had dismissed this topic until the book was done. I determined that while the book was at the printer’s there would be ample time to write up copy for the marketing phase. When I began on AUDIENCE, I realized that there was a lot more to learn about audience than the genre of my book.
Next: It’s all about AUDIENCE, and other Imperatives of Story