I have a story in me that pushes to come out. It’s several stories (note the ambitious plural), but that’s beside the point. Pushing. Poking. It leaves me with the image of mud pools in Rotorua. Bubbling with gasses that force their way to the surface. I suppose you could say, it’s mental indigestion.
After years of academic writing and blogging about trauma recovery and other self-improvement issues, it should be easy! Right? How difficult could it be to write a story when the plot line is interesting?
Since then I am on a steep learning curve with light bulbs going off right, left, and centre. Will I ever get it? I don’t know. But I am going to give it my best shot.
Many years ago I learned how to make pots and my home and those of my kids and friends show ample signs of my pottery skills. I didn’t start by just sitting in front of a pottery wheel, throwing a piece of clay on it and…tataaa…ended up with a perfect pot. I had to apply myself and learn pottery skills and techniques; and with determination and practice, practice, practice, I ended up with (some) decent pots.
I didn’t know there is more to storytelling than just telling a story. I didn’t know there are techniques, skills, and processes involved that combined and applied well, will bring a story to life AND when ignored will sink a story like a battleship after a torpedo hit.
It all started with a friend telling me to cut down on ‘ly-words.’ – I know now these things are called adverbs. – I followed that advice, although I didn’t real(ly) understand why. I thought things were nice(ly) expressed, quick(ly) sorted, and tasted heaven(ly). Stephen King said in his book On Writing: A memoir on the craft
the road to hell is paved with adverbs
I see that now. It’s sloppy, lazy writing and indicates the writer has used a weak verb or failed to show in the surrounding prose what’s going on. There you have it! There are some great examples here.
I suppose that’s a good start. But don’t be fooled. It’s just the beginning. There is so much more: POV (point of view), that’s another huge mountain to climb for me. And I haven’t even started with hooks, pacing, turning points, pinch points, show and don’t tell, beats, and structure.
Oh, how much fun is there waiting for me – as it will be for every newbie!
Image mud pool by Dan Nelson