Monday, May 7, 2012

MAYbe Monday: Being a Storyteller

May I tell you something about writing?

Image: dan /

The above photo reminds me of a short story I wrote in high school.  It's about nerdy guy who never stands up for himself.  One day, he finds a glowing orb.  His personality starts to shift.  At first it seems to be giving him confidence, but it soon becomes clear to those around him that his personality is being entirely obliterated by this orb.  The story ends with him grabbing his bully and pulling him in front of a bus.  They both die horribly.

Cheerful story, right?

For me, writing is a way to tell a story.  Maybe that sounds obvious, but some people simply write to vent (which, don't get me wrong, I do).  Others simply love language (and so do I).  I, on the other hand, have always wanted to tell stories.  I remember as a kid, I told stories to my younger cousins.  The stories were always improvised and utterly ridiculous, but that's when I began to realize just how much I loved to craft new places, new characters, and events that I could never take part in.

Since I write science fiction, I have the benefit of choice.  A story can take place anywhere, at any time, and I can make anything possible.  Even with all these options, it can at times be difficult to start writing.  Inspiration has to strike.  So how do I decide what kind of story to tell?

As a writer, inspiration can strike anywhere and at any time.  My brain seems to be primed to pick out a story from the most mundane of situations.  My latest novel was inspired by my outrage while watching the political debates of the past year.  Sometimes I'm doing something unrelated to writing, and a random question will pop into my mind.  What if the outcome of the Civil War had been different?  How would international politics be different if humans were telepathic?

These odd questions help me build a world.  From there I envision how a society with these differences would look, and I consider how people would be impacted by them.  I try to develop characters based on the kind of environments they would have been raised in.  I do my best to make the world my characters live in seem as real as possible.  No matter how fantastic a premise may seem, its the concrete details of real life that make it believable.  World-building is all about the details.

All it takes is one great idea, a lot of thought, and a great deal of patience.

With the story described above, I channeled the pain of feeling singled out.  I understood how alone my character felt, and I wondered what would happen if he lost control of his actions.  What if he was only able to act on instinct?  In the end, the desire for revenge ended up destroying him.

That's all for now.  See you next time.


  1. Wow! That's an interesting story you wrote! I think it sends quite the moral message about being true to oneself, even if you are afraid. It's better than becoming something you are not, or becoming corrupt.

    I love telling stories and inventing characters. Sure, I love to vent, but that's not what really drives me to write anymore. I think it used to, but creating new worlds with people in them and letting those people create themselves, just like real people do, is what makes me love to tell stories.

    Funnily enough, the less I feel like I'm creating the story and the more the characters are creating it, the more I love it.

    Is this a blog meme? I'm not familiar with "MAYbe Monday."

  2. MAYbe Monday is part of the Blog Me Maybe blogfest hosted by Sara McClung. Click on the Blog Me MAYbe button off to the side if you're curious to know more.

    Thanks for reading!