We all have the power to create myth by weaving the ordinary events of life into the dramatic structure of story.
But is it that simple?
In writing courses, when students are asked to produce a story, one of the most common story themes turns out to be ‘not being able to write’.
Something like this:
‘I sat at my desk and stared at the garden and the butterflies on the rose bushes but nothing came to me …’ and so on for the required number of words.
Why does this happen?
As adults we are the keeper of thousands of stories, but when asked to write them down in a coherent form we can often hit a brick wall. It’s as if the idea of ‘story’ is a magical place where entry is allowed to only a select few.
It’s just not so
When you have a story to tell, imagine you are speaking to a friend. Sit at your desk and visualize the friend sitting opposite. Think of an incident in your life you want to discuss with your friend. Obviously that incident has a beginning, middle and ending.
If this is a dramatic incident, a holdup at the local pharmacy, say, you will want to start at the beginning, describe the dramatic sequence of events and finish with the arrival of the police. As you go along, you will probably digress into other stories, embroidering the tale with interesting details.
Or if it’s a story about someone else, the local football hero, you will want to describe the way he looked the day he turned up at school to coach the kids.
Start to write as you would tell your story out loud. If it helps, use a recording device and transcribe it later.
Story secret #4
If writing your life story feels like climbing a mountain, think of the incidents in your life as interesting anecdotes you are telling a sympathetic friend.
Your Life Story: How to Turn Life into Literature by Kay H. Rennie