FROM STORYTELLER TO STORY WRITER
One of the things I want to look at in the coming weeks and months is my struggle to move from a teller of tales – a public speaker with an audience –to a writer of tales where the words alone have to do everything. I have discovered, and I am still discovering that there are big differences between the two in terms of time and talent and a completely different set of skill involved, despite the superficial look of both as simply telling a tale…
Another thing I look forward to delving into are the classic tales and story lines (plots) and how they can be used effectively in our own storytelling. Several friends recently shared with me about how they believe there are no new stories, just new storytellers. I agree in the sense that every person will take a story line (and I believe every person can take a plot) and tell it in a different way.
I also believe, though, that it helps to be clear about what plot you are working with. Too many authors don’t recognize this truth and as a result they ramble, follow extraneous trails for some distance, and end up throwing out whole chapters in the process. Understanding the classic plots can go a long way in keeping a story on track.
I hope to be able to continue to share writing tips as I have found them and continue to find them. This line will extend the work I began under the heading “Writing Secrets,” but I intend the ideas at this point to be more topical and open to discussion. Some of those topics might include the selection (care and feeding) of character names, the “happily ever after” syndrome, where background information belongs in a story (and how important it is to the story and character development), what research is really good for, and so on.
Lastly, I want to share some thoughts on creating and building a viable world in which a story may live and breathe. I hope to do so by showing some aspects of my own universe, as conceived. I hope you will find the discussions helpful in your work, though I expect you will develop things differently and in your own way. With that said, let me share some general thoughts about creating a writing universe.
Writers of science fiction and fantasy in particular, and all genres including mainstream/literary writers to some greater or lesser extent will speak of creating their own world or universe within which their story or series of stories take place. Some might simply call it the setting for the story, but really it is more than that. It includes houses, buildings, sometimes woods or bridges or countryside that does not actually exist in our reality; and people, of course, that are invented (after a fashion) for story purposes.
For any author who steps outside of our present reality – that which we experience every day, whether Wal-mart or Nordstrom’s – building a world that is consistent and plausible is imperative. This is true, not only for the obvious world builders like science fiction and fantasy (and horror) authors, but for anyone who travels on the road, or visits a shack, or happens to be married to a time traveler. The author needs to know what is and what isn’t, what is possible and what is not, and to some extent, how it works. In short, they need to build a viable universe.
Now, I plan immediately to go out on a limb and make my very next post on showing the development of my system of magic (as used in my fantasy stories and novels, as well as my time travel fantasy). Yours will undoubtedly differ, and so it should.