Thanking Skyanne, Developing The Story, Traviata, and Waning August Days

Thanks to everyone who came to the PAYA Festival on Saturday. It was great seeing you there and talking to everybody. Thanks especially to Skyanne Fisher, the mastermind behind the whole thing. Skyanne is a genius, and I’m not kidding!

During the morning workshop, a huge panel of writers gave mini-speeches on different aspects of writing. Mine was on the development of the story, and I include it below. Hope it’s helpful!

Five minute talk on development of the story. 

  1. Start your story. It doesn’t matter which words you use, just start. You can always come back later and change what you wrote. Guaranteed that you will, in fact. But don’t worry about that now. Throw whatever paint you want on the white canvas to get going. Then it’s not white anymore. Be courageous. You’re stronger than the blankness.
  2. Write whatever is in your head. You cannot make a mistake here. Whatever you write has to be okay because it is you writing it. The idea of your story determines what is in the ‘story room’.
  3. Don’t censor, don’t edit. Let the story flow. If you think of a girl with hair of three different shades and a tattoo of a rose on her chin, then put that down. She might be very important to the story. If you don’t put it down, you will find that sensation of a sock being stuck down your throat. Don’t stifle your thoughts no matter how weird they might be. Weird is good! If you stifle one thought, you stifle them all.
  4. Follow your story, your character, around as though you are following a three-year-old child around a backyard. You follow, but don’t get in the way. If that three-year-old wants to eat a feather, let him. If he’s heading into the poison ivy, let him go there. No protecting allowed!
  5. Keep following the three-year-old, and if it seems that he’s abandoned you, look around your story room, what do you see? An emptiness? Then describe the empty room. What’s it feel like in there? What’s it smell like? Cedar, mildew? Is there blood on the floor or is it a forgotten silk ribbon? What’s behind the old couch? A prop you find in this room will probably propel you on to the next thing you need to write. Remember, everything in the ‘story room’ belongs in your story. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be there. Even the emptiest story room has something in it. Do you have the guts to write what’s there?
  6. As long as you see stuff, write it and say yes! Yes! It might not be what you thought you were going to write about when you sat down, but it’s what the story demands. And the more you write, the more you’ll see. You’ll be glad you let the story tell itself.
  7. You’ll know when you get to the end of your first draft.
  8. You’ve gotten there? That’s another five minute talk.

I also made a couple of comments on the importance of rest and nutrition. If you aren’t rested, those words just won’t flow the way they will if you are. So get your sleep!

I’m back to working on my Traviata story. The full first draft is peeking over the horizon. Maybe I’ll have it soon.

And I’m enjoying the last couple days of August. Open windows, cricket songs, summer breezes.  I love August! I hope your’s is waning as beautifully as mine is.


By authorsusanshaw

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