Monday, July 13, 2015

The Reality of It!


Good day, dear readers.

The past few weeks, I have been reading a great deal of “press releases” on Facebook and other media pages online.  
As citizens, it is our responsibility to check these things out: read the articles, then look for the grain of truth that might have given birth to the whole story, and study it out to find out the facts of the matter that caught our interest.   As writers, we need to study these things to see how others are doing what we want to do:  Draw our readers into our story; help them become a part of it.  

After over three decades of writing, my goals are now toward Journalistic accuracy, achieving the most solid curriculum possible in my study guides, and making my fiction almost believable; and so these satirical sites really bother me, while they inspire me.  And I have used them to an advantage in developing some of my more fictional works.  Each site has a different style of presentation worth evaluating, and I’ve used them to sharpen some of my techniques.   The greatest discovery in each article is that they all have some basis of fact around which the satire develops into extreme fictional propaganda.   This is very similar to developing a fictional short story or novel.

The key point to remember:  Even the greatest fiction tale started with at least one point of fact.

Are you struggling with getting your story to work? There are a few simple steps to get past what so many people like to call “writer’s block”.

1)     Stop struggling with it.  Walk away from the story for a little while.  There is no specific time line to clear your head of the static that has begun to interfere with the story.  Once you feel comfortable with it, return to the work, but not immediately to the work already done.

2)       Evaluate the story line.  Outline your current thoughts on the story.

3)      Match the new outline to the work already done. 

4)      What is the reality in your story?  How many points of reality have you attempted to include, but disguise?  Is there too much reality?  What needs dropped or added?

5)      Decide which point of reality is most important to the story.

6)      Write down new ideas as they come to mind, in a notebook meant just for your story. 

7)      Now, with thoughts all sorted, and being organized as they come up:  Clean up the work already done; adding what you need, deleting what doesn’t belong, moving those little things that seem out of place. 

8)      Move on.  With a good cup of coffee [or soda, water, etc...], and your favorite write time munchie, all your notes organized, and a clear path to move forward; set about finishing your work.

A second thing to remember:  Fiction is generally an embellishment of that fact you started with.  As a writer, you are the one who molds the story.  So do not be afraid to embellish! 

Have you ever sat down to read a book that had the famous disclaimer in the front cover that the book was a work of fiction and that any resemblance to specific persons, events, and/or locations is not intended?   {The publishers put that there to protect themselves and the writers from a reader that might recognize their local church through the description that sets you in the middle of Sunday morning worship. }  As you read the description of the hero, he reminds you of someone you went to school with, and the description of main street at Christmas time makes you think you’ve been in that town. 

These descriptions are effective because there was a little town in the writer’s life that decorated main street in the way they tell of it.  This is the reality in their story.  Maybe the writer knew the fellow you went to school with, and that’s how he can bring him to mind as he talks about the way the hero took over the room when he entered.   That’s ok.  This is the reality in the story.

Do not be afraid to use points of reality to craft your work of fiction.  I was once told, “The greatest writers write what they know.  It doesn’t matter how much truth you put into your story, if you call it Fiction no one is going to look for the facts.  But if you write Fiction, let your imagination make what you know dance on the paper in a frenzy of fun embellishment. Only give them [readers]  a sampling of your reality, so that they keep coming back for more.”  {Mrs. Francis Gillespie; Sterling High School Creative Writing Club 1984-1987}

I’ve been writing for 35 years now, and every now and again, writer’s block attempts to prevent a poem or short story from coming together.  The eight steps I’ve given you have been the most effective help for me.   Two more things can help immensely:  Bounce your ideas of trusted family and friends; and feed a sample to strangers. 

The reality of the story is your reality.  Telling a sampling of the story to a few people will not hurt.  Even if someone decides to try to steal your story, they only know what you have told them, so no one will ever be able to tell the story as well as you will tell it.  They might put out an idea and a story, but it will only be different than yours, not better; because no one can steal, or improve on, your reality.

Writer’s block should be viewed as a welcome break.  It occurs when the ideas are not clear or coherent.  Take advantage of the challenge to define the reality of your story and refine the work.  It can be a tool to achieve excellence, handled well.

Until next time; Keep reading, and Enjoy your reality!

3 comments:

  1. Thank you for the advice. I especially appreciated your last paragraph. I've had a bit of writer's block lately, so that paragraph encouraged me. Thank you! :)

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  2. I'm glad that the blog helped some. I just posted today's blog, with more on getting past the block. This one is one working your way through descriptions. And it's a lot of fun to practice. :-)

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