Writing Stories [en]

[fr] Depuis toujours, j'ai envie d'écrire des romans, mais je me sens fondamentalement incapable d'inventer des histoires. Je sais raconter une histoire (enfin, de façon relativement compétente, je pense), mais si mon cerveau fonctionne en surchauffe pour produire des idées d'article ou des pensées à développer dans mon blog, il reste désespérément muet pour ce qui est de la construction de scénario.

Après quelques conversations avec Suw et son ami Vince, qui en est à son cinquième roman, j'ai décidé qu'il était temps de prendre sérieusement cette envie qui me hante (oooh... ohhh...) depuis belle lurette. L'imagination et la créativité, ça s'exerce. Je vais exercer mon cerveau à inventer des histoires.

Had some interesting conversation these last two days here in Leeds with Suw and Vince about writing fiction. Vince actually writes fiction, Suw has quite a bit at some point, and I’ve always wanted to.

I write loads and always have (mainly on and around this blog during the last years), but it’s mainly essay-ish or fact, like the many pages of my journal of the year I lived in India. What little fiction I have written, mainly in my school years (some of which you can find in the writing section) is mainly scenes, atmospheres, small episodes. No stories, really.

I’ve always wanted to write stories, but always felt myself fundamentally incapable of doing so. I remember two attempts to write meaningful fiction in my early years. First, I must have been nine or ten, and I had received a nice thick notebook. I decided I was going to write a story in it, but it fell flat after one line. Second, I was a teenager, and I spent a good part of some winter holidays diving into the creation of a science fiction novel. I think the impulse came after reading a C. J. Cherryh book. I had a main character, a bit of a world, but no story. I just started writing, and about 12 pages later it was going nowhere and my interest fizzled out. I still have what I wrote in a folder — it was called “Aurora”.

My head is always bubbling with ideas of things to blog. Stuff to comment upon, ideas about the world, life, or tools that I want to talk about. But my head is completely void of stories. It’s as if the storytelling part of my imagination was broken, or so still it couldn’t move. Well, I can tell a story if I know what the story I have to tell is (so, based on fact) but I can’t come up with one. At least, I don’t come up with stories naturally.

What the conversation with Suw and Vince made me understand was that I could excercise that skill. I can train my mind to think up stories. I just need to do it explicitly at first. I need to try to think of stories.

Vince told me to think up an ending before getting started, and I think that’s a good point. A good novel can be killed by a lousy ending, and a medium story can be redeemed by a good ending. And I remember, in school, when we started creative writing, our teacher mentioned that it was often really hard for us to come up with good endings, and that she recommended we do not try and write stories with ends, and stick to vignettes or scenes. I think it was good advice at the time, but now I’m not 12 anymore. I’ve grown up and am probably capable of thinking up endings to stories 🙂

So, yesterday, as we were driving Steph and Virginie to the airport, I found myself daydreaming and trying to come up with stories. Interestingly, what I came up with was mainly “world ideas”. Minor changes one could make to our world and which would create an interesting setting for a story.

But no stories yet. I’m going to keep working on it.

4 thoughts on “Writing Stories [en]

  1. Basically writing stories is like playing jazz: first you study the basic elements that make a story (starting, problem, solution, ending), then you mix them, and finally you dress them naming the characters and setting everything in the right time and location.

    A great source of inspiration for stories from everyday life is “games people play” by Eric Berne (http://ericberne.com/Games_People_Play.htm). Basically is a list of stories from everyday life, which are reduced to the basic archetypes.

    For Fairytales and science-fiction, the basic tool is the fairytale classification by Vladimir Propp (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propp). Try also the fairytale generator (http://www.brown.edu/Courses/FR0133/Fairytale_G… and http://www.stonedragonpress.com/wicca_201/vladi…).

  2. Oh, la bonne nouvelle ! Même si, comme tu le dis toi-même, tu es encore loin d'une histoire complète, je trouve que c'est une très bonne idée.

    A propos de ton “incapacité” à imaginer des histoires fictives: je ne lis presque que de la science-fiction et je suis toujours admiratif devant le fait que quasiment chaque auteur de SF ne fait que décrire ses contemporains en transposant ça dans un monde futuriste/imaginaire/parralèle, etc. Tu dis que ta tête fourmille d'idées sur le monde qui t'entoure, tu peux peut-être les utiliser/transformer dans un contexte de fiction.

    C'était les deux eurocents d'un non-écrivain qui n'écrit tellement plus que même son blog est en friche. (Je ne mets même plus l'adresse de celui-ci dans mes commentaires… :p)

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