"I am trying to check my habits of seeing, to counter them for the sake of greater freshness. I am trying to be unfamiliar with what I'm doing." - John Cage

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Where does a story begin? A Writing Prompt to try on a summer afternoon

 What draws you into a story?  Think of the stories you’ve liked.  Why do you read?  What do you get out of it?

“In stories…I suppose there is always a moment… when the image, the set of relationships that seem actually to reveal something about life, forms”

- Robert Hass, Twentieth Century Pleasures

“ A story is a moment after which nothing will ever be the same again – John L’Heureux

What starts a story?

·     Tobias Wolf says story begins when he sees something that bothers him, for example two people fighting on the sidewalk, and he wants to figure it them out – character driven story. What is the seed of what will happen?  This story is plot- driven.

·     Aristotle: a beginning, a middle, an end. 

    Narrative arc: conflict, crisis, resolution, or opening, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution – the triangle.

How can we use personal experience in our writing?  How can you include compassion?  Self-vulnerability of the writer? 

Our prompt:

1.      Write a ten line story - Narrate a single incident/event between two people. It could be you or a relative or a friend.  Think of an incident of some kind of conflict, an irrevocable moment between two people, and include description of where and when. 

2.      Now go back and circle where the energy is/images that are rich and freewrite on those sections – let yourself free associate.

what images/metaphors do you see happening?

what questions make you question more?

3.          3. Write more detail, a line below each line, until there are 20 lines weaving back and forth between setting, event, character, and image - adding more detail with each line.                      

 4.      Finally, rewrite in a different order! You can number the lines and randomly order or write it            backwards or start in the middle.   

        Don’t be chronological. Be generous to your reader! Talk with them as if they are a close friend.