Tag Archives: story

Storytelling: One Size Does Not Fit All

A couple of months ago, I was on my way out to get my hair done by a friend of mine, a stylist, whose salon happened to be thirty minutes from where I live. Being a new driver, and it being my first time going out there on my own, I elected to take streets instead of the highway. I’d gone through the directions in my head constantly since the night before, quizzing myself on where to go and where to turn and where not to turn, what to look for, etc. My sister had only driven us out there once, and it was with the highway, but she had helped me figure out the route without it, and I’d tried to run myself through the paces I remembered when she drove us.

So I’m driving, and it’s getting close to the point where there’s the highway and the way I take. She said, stay left, so I stayed left, and I got myself on the highway on complete accident, for the second time in my life, and freaked out.

Okay, pause.

I’ve told this story a handful of times. Once to the stylist friend, in a humorous tone, laughing at myself and the situation after I’d gotten through it, once to my sister, halfway into hysterics and worried like hell, and a couple times to other friends, highlighting the craziness and my exasperation with what happened.

I noticed, immediately after I told my stylist about getting lost and making my way safely to her chair, that I told the story differently to her than I did to my sister. And then again when I told it to friends, and Friend. Now, to you, this is cut and dry and I’m emphasizing different points.

Each person we talk to has a different understanding and view of us. We have a relationship with them that allows us to have deeper conversations, or it stays shallow and we don’t bother them with how we were feeling. That doesn’t come as a surprise, but it’s curious to consider. Shallow relationships yield shallow conversation and the deeper yield, of course, more robust explanations.

It was just interesting to note, because I’d never noticed it before. How could I be practically crying on the phone with Angie when I’m trying to navigate my way through a mostly unknown city and then turn around in fifteen minutes and laugh my ass off with Vicki about it?

Because I have a deeper connection with one and I don’t have half the bond as I do with the other.

And then I applied it to characters. Their comfort level with the other character in question greatly dictates what they have to say about the situation or event playing out. How guarded or cavalier they are about what’s going on with them, how personal it is, and who engaged the conversation also has a huge impact on how it goes.

It seems so obvious, when you think about it, it’s just natural, but then you observe it in your own life and it makes you stop in your tracks.  What you say to people is largely based on your relationship together and the trust you have with them.

Something to chew on for the weekend, I think. Or to put to the test with a variety of different characters!

😉

-The Novice Wordsmith

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Meaning and Sentiment

The holiday season is choc full of sentiment, no matter if you think the days have become entirely commercialized or not. It’s a time for family and togetherness, to show how much we care and love others, by giving as much as we can.

Meaning has two different thoughts here in this post for me. One is the association with semantics and what something is comprised of, what it means, and the other is tied in with sentiment, it means something, it has value. The meaning of getting gifts this Christmas is mutual love and abundant desire to see someone happy, but how much do those gifts mean to who is getting them or giving them?

Getting a bunch of gifts mean that people are able and wanting to give to you. Getting gifts that are maybe small, they’re toys, they’re little things that not many would consider to get you, means that someone knows you, or has inside jokes with you, or something to that effect.

There’s sentiment in getting something from someone you care about. You know what they went through to get it despite how quickly or how much you’ve outgrown it, and you’d rather hold on to it.

Writing goes sort of in the same direction, but differently, if that makes any sense. What you write can have meaning in two different ways. It can mean something about your life or society, or it can mean the world to you because it was the first thing you felt so great about writing in a while. It can mean enough to put a dedication to someone in it, it will have that sentimentality that it’s for someone else, that there’s more to it than just a crazy, creative idea that you had and masterfully marked up throughout a period of time.

It is what you put into it.  If you put your heart and soul into it, if it’s filled to the brim with your passion and gusto (as Ray Bradbury would put it), it will be obvious. With passion backing your words, there’s bigger, stronger support to it, there’s more emphasis and feeling.

Sentiment is a big part as well. Like with writing for a gift, there’s more to it than is tangible. It can help sculpt the story, the chapter, the article, into something else. Like with dedication to someone you’ve lost, the sentiment of writing it for them makes it into a piece that has your heart in it. It has reminders of them or it has a message for them that you maybe couldn’t have told them before.

Even if, overall, the piece ends up being some of your worst work– either in your eyes or someone else’s– there is sentiment in it. You see it, others may not, but it becomes what it means to you. And, in some cases, those who know what the meaning is in it.

Writing comes from the head, but the heart contributes just as much. It is a compilation of passion and ideas, the collaboration of your imagination and where your heart wants to soar. When there is one without the other, what does the meaning become then?

-The Novice Wordsmith

“Nothing is Ever Good Enough”

Continuing on the sort of theme I’ve been on the past couple of days, I looked inward for another post. It’s been on my mind for a bit, but I was never sure how to breach the subject in a post.

One thing I see a lot in writing advice from time to time is that you will always find a flaw with your writing. There will never be a point in time where you’re simply finished with being critical of your work and instead entranced by all of what you turn out. Days will come and go where you don’t want to touch some of your writing, because you’re afraid of how bad it’ll turn out instead.

You will hate your work, and you will love it. Some of our best work in the eyes of our audience may be something we personally abhor.

You will turn out chapters and stories you are mystified and have the strongest sense of satisfaction about. You will be in love with the development and the strength of a character or a scene that you described.

The phrase “You are your own worst critic” is true, mostly because you can see the flaws, you can see where you want things to be stronger and better. Where the phrasing should have been different, or a character should have kissed someone instead of slapping them. Where you could have described the scenery better, or changed one word to better fit the situation.

In personal news, I see others play characters of mine, and sometimes, depending on who it is, I feel a pang of, “they’re better at this than I am. Why am I still writing this character? Why don’t I just give it to them?”

Worry, self-conscious thoughts, anxiety. It all ties in. It makes it worse, but I try to remember that I’m the one who created these characters. I’m the one who knows them best. I hold their voices, not someone else. Friends may catch on and see how they are very well, but they aren’t the proprietors, the voice wouldn’t sound the same under someone else’s writing.

The story itself would not be the same from someone else’s hand, either. Even the stories passed down from deceased authors to a new one with be different, sound different, because the same hand isn’t writing it. Everyone is different, style, tone, word choice, it’s all different. You wrote this character, you made the hero or the villain or the group of people or the plot itself with all of its twists and turns, for you, for how you write, and no one else.

So no matter how much you think it sucks, no matter how bad you might think it looks or how bulky or chunky or just unreadable it might be to you, keep going. Don’t stop, don’t hand it off, this is yours. These, every little element and tool and piece of the world, is yours, it’s everything you’ve put together, how many hours and how much effort you’ve gone through to make sure it’s how you envisioned it.

Don’t let anyone, or anything stop you. Least of all yourself.

-The Novice Wordsmith