Tuesday, October 11, 2016
The Story is Inevitable
It's the cliche question writers are most often asked by those who don't write: Where do you get your ideas? And the answer that always comes to my mind is Where doesn't a writer get ideas?
The Story is inevitable.
There is a story in the tiniest grain of sand, and there is a story in every stone in the Great Pyramid. There is a story in a light switch, and in a summer storm. There are countless stories in the lives of every living -- and dead -- human being since the beginning of time. In every sight, every sound, every smell, every thought, there is a story that can be told to carry us into fantastic other worlds and realities and possibilities.
A writer's imagination is fertile ground where the seeds of unique ideas grow to bloom.
The problem is not so much where to find ideas, but the choosing among the millions of bits of information that are planted in the course of even one twenty-four hour day.
That young bank teller who cashed a check for you today has a story. The old man in the park has his. Even that candy bar wrapper on the sidewalk has a potential story: Why is it yellow? Who wrote the standards for the ingredient labeling? How was the candy made in the candy factory, what kind of machine created it, how do the machines work, who invented them?
What is the reason behind the design of the parking meter where you left your car this afternoon? What were the mechanics of its production and the materials? Who decided the number of coins you dropped into the meter slot and did that person have a brother who might be a murderer?
Even beyond the plot of that entertaining novel you're reading, there are myriad stories that grow from the very production of the book itself. Who designed the book jacket, where did their own ideas come from? Where did the paper come from for the book's pages? How old was the tree from which the paper came, and did squirrels scamper among its branches?
If you write fiction, your story is in the faces of the people whose paths you cross in your daily routine, and definitely in the face in your mirror. Your story is in the lives of the people you love and the people you don't particularly like and the people you want to get to know. Your story is in the anger, the joy, the common experience in all humankind.
Life is fascinating. You need only to pay attention.
Look, listen, absorb. Create.
If you're a writer of research articles, how-to pieces, technical copy, advertising blurbs, a story is in the what, where, when, why, and the how. Everyone has some kind of experience or expertise in something. Ideas are endless for the magazine, newspaper article, and feature writer. Published materials and the great infinite web offers access to every fact or statistic you could possibly want to know. (And, of course, some you don't want to know.)
Ideas bloom from ideas. Writers read. We're guaranteed to find something to write about.
No matter what the format or genre, whether fiction or non-fiction, mystery or how-to, a writer's garden of ideas is lush.
In the garden there be dragons, alien beings, maybe even the fascinating story of a rock. All around, every day, every minute, there is a story in full bloom.
The story is inevitable.