In out most recent chat, Luke and I discussed how reading books or articles about storytelling is all well and good, but it would be more beneficial to us as creators, and indeed to our community as a whole, if we were to actually reflect on the content of these books.
To that end: enter a new kind of Central Pillar article. READ articles will allow members of the Adventures in Storytelling community to reflect on writing that is about writing. Much like the PLAY experiments, we don’t want to put too many formal restrictions on what READ looks like, but expect READ to be filled with insights on big thinkers, discussions on new ideas, connections to existing Adventures in Storytelling content (especially Right Pillar themes), thoughts on the many philosophies of storytelling, and indeed, whatever else you want READ to be about!
During the first ever Adventures in Storytelling Suds and Stories (a real life meetup where community members hang out to enjoy company, beverages, and talking about stories), Amanda described Stephen King as ‘supernaturally talented,’ which is both incredibly apt and an incredible pun. I can’t give you any proof, but I feel that King’s talent flows from an innate understanding of a simple storytelling truth (a truth that he puts on to the lips of Roland in The Dark Tower series): the joy of a tale is in the telling.
As we explored in Part I, a story is a space where the audience and the author meet and together generate meaning. Stories possess a wonderful quirk that complicates this idea, though. Once a story is told, it continues to exist independent of the person who originally did the telling. That might mean it was codified or recorded in some way, or it may just mean that it lives on in the memory of a person who was listening, but a story becomes an entity unto itself. Continue reading “The Joy of a Tale is in the Telling Part II: Magic Beans”
Here at Adventures in Storytelling, we live by a simple idea: how a story is told can be as interesting as the story itself. In more concrete terms, meta commentary on storytelling is itself a space for some really interesting revelation. If it wasn’t, I’m fairly certain the central pillar would collapse.
I do think there is a good reason why most works of literature don’t have a DVD extras-sytle commentary or an author’s website pulling apart the entire outline of a plot, though. Stories should be able to stand for themselves, and as I’ve said before, what an audience brings to a work is just as important as what the authors pour in. The space where author and audience meet is where meaning is generated. The existence of Adventures in Storytelling notwithstanding, giving the audience too much meta commentary can undercut that spontaneous generation of meaning. Our project is looking at the process of creation for other creators, and the dilution of emergent meaning is accepted in order to show how the work itself is created. Continue reading “The Joy of a Tale is in the Telling Part I: Meta Commentary and Shared Story Space”
The last time I made a post here, I set myself a goal of writing a chunk of this every week. It was probably foolish to start right before the holidays and a vacation, but I figured I’d find time, that finding time would be part of the fun.
Best laid plans, right? Continue reading “Taste Your Food”
Here’s an important fact about me: I stink at storytelling.
I don’t struggle to write. When I have an ongoing project, I write every day. Maybe not the NaNoWriMo-approved 1,667 words, and sometimes not even the Chuck Wendig-approved 350, but I get some words on the screen. I’ve worked hard to cultivate that “thinking comes later” attitude that Luke mentions in his comment on Madeline’s Play 002 post. Continue reading “It’s a Bit Formulaic, Wouldn’t You Say?”
Recently, my partner Candice asked me a question:
“Why do you like storytelling?”
That’s—a really good question. One I’m a little disappointed it’s taken me this long to reflect on. I think asking “why” is important to understand the heart/core/meaning of the things we do. If we don’t ask why, we don’t understand, and if we don’t understand something, then we have no control over it; no ability to improve. In the creative world that translates into an inability to create. Continue reading “Why Do I Like Storytelling?”
Luke and I have been talking a lot about process lately, both here at Adventures in Storytelling and in our conversations with each other. Although the going is slow, both Adventures in Storytelling and Charlotte’s Journey are chugging along happily, so much of our conversation has dealt with maintaining our creative pace. The best strategy seems to be establishing and sticking to a routine. Once again, Luke and I have discovered something that is already well known! We’re accepting awards for redundancy. Continue reading “Facing the Challenge of a Disrupted Schedule”
There is an important piece of writer’s advice floating around out there. You’ve probably run across it before. It’s on most writer’s advice websites, written on blackboards of creative writing classes, it’s on the lips of writing instructors, shaved into stationary cats, and probably written in the stars themselves:
Show don’t tell.
I’m not fond of this advice. Sure, at its heart, it has a valuable message. In simplest terms, show don’t tell encourages a novice writer to do more than simply report a series of events. To show is to encourage the readers to have a visceral, emotional, and empathetic reaction to what they are reading. A writer of creative fiction should do more than just report what happened like a newspaper article. The trouble is that while creative writing instructors are busy carving the words show don’t tell onto every pebble on a beach, they have failed to notice that the novice writers have not learned the important part of the lesson. Continue reading “Abyssinia Henry: The Power of Telling”
“There is no such thing as a bad idea.”
I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase before—you might have even seen it on another creative advice website. It’s the sort of entry level advice that is both incredibly valuable and infuriatingly reductive. The truth is a bit more complex. There are bad ideas, but that does not mean that they are without merit or value.
Continue reading “There Are No Bad Ideas: Ideation for Storytellers”
The day was March 12, 2015. I was walking home from work, contemplating the inevitable yet no less heartbreaking news: Sir Terry Pratchett had passed away. Sir Terry represented 50% of my personal writing heroes, so you must understand I was staggered by the gaping hole he left behind in literature and my soul. How could we, as a species, hope to fill this void? How does one person come to be as skilled, intelligent, delightful, and insightful as he was through each of his works?
Continue reading “The Email That Started It All”