This is going to be short today.
Personal stories. We all have them. In fact, we tell them at every family gathering or get together. We tell them to our kids, to our friends, and to anyone else in the vicinity. And they all start with “remember when” instead of “once upon a time.”
Fairy tales, legends, myths…they all began as personal stories. Something happened to someone one time and they told someone who told someone, and so on. Have you ever participated in a group storytelling exercise where you tell someone something and it goes around the group until it comes back to you? It wasn’t the same thing as what it began as, was it?
I lost someone very dear to me over the weekend unexpectedly and as I was talking about it with someone we began recalling memories and stories. Funny stories specifically. But the one memory I remember more than any of the others is the best concert I’ve been to and it was with her. There were stories about books and movies, and this one time she threw Sprite on me while aiming for her brother. She had terrible aim. As I was reminiscing, it occurred to me that I should write some of these down. Some would make good scenes in stories.
When writing a story, personal experience is an invaluable tool. The emotions and characters necessary are already there. All you have to do is write them down. Having trouble with your characters where you can’t figure out what to do next? Think about throwing them into the middle of an argument you actually had. Want something funny? Remember that time your aunt sat you down on a baby cactus because she didn’t see it?
And what about all those family stories that get passed down? Tell me you don’t have any that wouldn’t make a great scene in a book. This week try using a personal experience as a scene in your story.
Kind of makes you wonder about all those legends, doesn’t it?
Have a great week!