How do you write a story?

A lot of people ask me how I write a story. It’s not an uncommon question – it’s one I ask other writers myself. It is, at once, a pointless question and one that everyone has to ask.

Everyone has to ask it. But why?

I’m pretty sure – and bear with me on this – that writers are, more or less, nuts. I say that having been in several writing class and being friends with a number of writers. The serious ones, we’re all nuts. I’m not excluding myself. I know that I’ve stayed awake at night, trying to sleep, exhausted, unable to drop off into unconsciousness because there are scenes running through my head. I’ve had characters do things I couldn’t predict, that I didn’t approve of, that I didn’t like, that I’ve yelled at because now I’ve got to clean up their mess. This isn’t something a normal person has to deal with. This is something writers have to deal with.

That being said, how do I write a novel? Often, it includes a glass or two of red wine and a few tracks from the Decemberists.

I’m really interested in exploring this process over the following entries. I want to share my experiences, to hear other people’s. We all know it’s a visceral, painful process, and sometimes it helps just to vent a little – to slam cabinet doors, to yell, to stomp feet, to throw things. Or, to talk to someone, which costs less to repair. Sometimes it flows like water, running so fast you skip words and congratulate yourself later on the genius of your character development, the furthering of your plot, your sentence structure, alliteration, and creative use of the dash. And, sometimes, it seeps, like blood from road rash, and hurts just as much. There’s no rhyme or reason to the pattern, and nothing can explain when one of the situations goes on for days.

Days.

It’s hell on the sleeping schedule, either way.

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One Response to How do you write a story?

  1. “Writers” are a specific bunch of mad people. I don’t know why any of us do it. I write a story slowly and with more worry than I should have. It’s strange how worrying about a fictional creation stops me worrying too much about real things. I hope not to become so focused on fiction that I drop out of reality…

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