Story as Gift

My patron

Today’s title is not a metaphor. My daughter has commissioned a story for her 7th birthday. She would like a story about dragons -from space. Nice.

Every successful creative person creates with an audience of one in mind. That’s the secret of artistic unity.     ~ Kurt Vonnegut, The Independent, 1977

I’m finding that it’s one thing to imagine, as an actor might, your ideal reader and something completely different to write a story for someone in particular. And the stakes are high. Sylvia is a discerning reader. She has to read eight books (or chapters) a week for school, so we get a pile of books from the library every week. After reading this one she tossed it aside with the critique that:

“Nothing happened, he just goes to the Aquarium.”
I said, “Did he at least see a shark?”
“Yes,” she said, “but there should be a problem for it to be a story.”

She’s already nailed the most basic element of storytelling. So, dragons from space with a problem, check. I’m on a tight deadline, her birthday is March 17, so I’m using this story to practice writing my first drafts more quickly. I’m finding that drafting by hand might be my best method. I type faster but have a harder time turning off my inner-editor when I’m composing on screen. So, this story is getting put down on a yellow legal pad first.

I decided to use the Hero’s Journey as a framework for my outline (I am SO an outliner, but let’s talk about that in another post). I haven’t explicitly done a Hero’s Journey type story, and this one seemed like a good opportunity. That said, there’s a lot of truth in FILM CRIT HULK’S great response to the Hero’s Journey model. It’s worth reading for some balance and because HULK WRITE MANY GOOD ESSAYS! Who knew?

I’ve been wrestling with theme and character, dragons and princesses for a week now and there’s still much to do. Writing is hard work. It’s serious fun.  I’m beginning to believe that no story worth its salt gets to the page without a fight, but it’s worth it. I’m learning a lot, not the least of which is that every story is a gift.

I found this awesome picture here.

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