Sunday, December 26, 2010

Let A Story Help You Tell Your Story

Greetings Traveler! I hope you had a Merry Christmas (or perhaps are still having one). I hope Santa left a few writing gifts under your Christmas tree. I have just a brief posting today about a writing exercise I like to use to flesh out stories and open up the imagination spicket from a trickle to a tidal wave.

When I am having trouble plotting out my story or figuring out where I want the story to go, I sit down and write a short story about me (as the main character) telling someone else all about my story, my characters, and why they should read it.

I tend to work this routine even if I don't know what that story is yet..or at least not all of it. The story might be just an idea I have with various parts of a beginning, a middle, or end floating about the realm of my imagination. If that is the case, this exercise can help you get the creative energies flowing by allowing you to write about your story as though it were done and you were telling someone about it. It forces you to create, imagine, and develop on the fly.

While you are imagining how other people are going to react to your might find that your story needs to go a different way in order to get the reaction you wanted (or imagined). After all, aren't we just talking to ourselves here in this exercise?

In summary, this type of writing exercise serves the purposes of :
  • practicing what to tell other people (potential readers & publishers) about your story to get them hooked
  • identifying the key points of the story that you should tell others about
  • a dress rehearsal for when you are presented with a "this is it" moment, where you get to pitch your story or idea to an agent or editor.
  • creating a narrative one sheet to help you focus the "real" one sheet document
  • allowing you the opportunity to quickly see how (sweeping) changes to the storyline affect the overall story

Bottom line- this is a good exercise just to see if what you already have (or will have) sounds good (at least when your telling someone else about it) as though it were a finished product. It's a narrative type of plotting tool, if you will, that can help you develop your storyline and characters from what I call "the back book cover point of view."

Anyway, try it. Take something you have already written and write a story about you telling someone about your story and how they react to it. You can then try it with a potential story that is swirling around in your creative think tank.

Until next time........remember to write from the past, write in the present, and write boldly into the future.


  1. Thanks. I notice your upcoming articles are tech based. I think there is still a "technology" label available. Also, several of us have used the trick of creating a label for our own name. This way, you can click on the label of your name and see everything you have posted in order.

  2. Darren,

    I like your idea very much. My experience is very similar.

    Years ago, when I first began some weak attempts at writing, I wouldn't tell anyone about the work. I feared that the writer's fire would be quenched once the idea was exposed to the open air. As I've matured as a writer, I now realize that it is essential to find someone who cares about writing and tell my story to that person. Kinks in the plot seem to smooth in the process. Details become clear. The overall effect is a more polished, cohesive tale. The fact that I like to do orally what you do on paper may be related to my being a professional storyteller. Then, it's easier for me to pen it. Thank you, Darren.

    Write on!

    Because of Christ,
    Sharon Kirk Clifton

    (It's so frustrating that Blogger will not let me post as myself. I have to go the "Anonymous" route, and sometimes that doesn't even work.)

  3. Ah, Darren. To boldly go...where no man has gone before, perhaps? Keep at it, my friend. You're definitely on the right track...or is it Trek? Sorry, I'm feeling punchy with all the holiday festivities! Blessings to you!

  4. Hey guys, you might give it a quick re-read. I had composed this on my iphone while traveling for Christmas and noticed that my final save didn't take. I have corrected that.

  5. A somewhat similar exercise had a dramatic impact on my novel Gunner's Run. I started it in third person POV, but well into the novel I didn't think the story conveyed the full impact of the emotions the main character was experiencing. To capture that, I went back and rewrote from his POV, using the first person. That's when the story came alive! So I stuck with it, and readers say they feel as if they are right there with Jim Yoder.