CAMDEN – For many people, writing fiction, specifically short stories, and novels, is a way to reflect on the what it means to spend time on the planet and interact with those who are lucky enough to share the same space.
As days turn to years, and years to decades, I’d like to think I have something to share about the storytelling process and three of the most important elements or tools in that a writer may employ as they go about their work.
As I often say in class, there are no hard and fast rules to this game but there are a few that seem to make the game easier to play. Please note that these rules, or suggestions, have nothing to do with the mechanics (spelling, punctuation, grammar, etc.) but more to do with what helps a writer develop ideas, think about characters, and dream of settings they’ve never seen before. These suggestion have helped me and I think they will help others with the most important of all attributes a writer should have, his or her nearly boundless imagination.
- Stay connected or become connected with other writers
- Continue to explore, to learn, and better understand our world
- Read, read, read
There is nothing more inspiring, more daunting, or more beneficial than spending time with writers you admire, writers you respect, and writers you may even envy. Their work and their ideas may catapult you to new heights, inspire work that beforehand seemed unattainable.
To me, the second item on the list is a gentle reminder that a writer’s world should not exist of solely libraries and a writing desk. In my humble opinion, the world is meant to be explored. That means, take a class, join a running club, bike on a backwoods trail, go sailing, walk along the waterfront, do something outside of your normal routine and see the world. Many writers say they have come up with new ideas, plot twists, and completely formed characters while traveling through the world.
Almost anything is fair game as long as you meet new people, see new places, and think about new and interesting ideas.
Last, but not least, I have to give my father credit instilling this idea to my brothers and my sister. As children, we were told it was important to read and it wasn’t important what we read (within reason), just as long as found something that proved to be intriguing. Reading is another form of exploration and it’s not surprising that many scientific studies now claim that reading helps a person develop empathy and understanding. Personally, I think it’s nice to simply take a break and magically transport yourself to a different time or place. Writers should read regularly, occasionally out loud (listening for tone, pacing, and diction) and sometimes to others. It all helps as the magic between our ears roars into gear.
There is one common thread running through all of these ideas – keep thinking and try to be an active and observant participant as you wander through this game of life. Try new things, new places, and new ideas. It’ll only make the stories better. Let me know what you think.