THE ART OF STORYTELLING

PART FOUR

‘END IN SIGHT’

Dependent upon story length do you have a Novella or a Novel on your desk? Anything over forty thousand words may be considered a novel. If you have in mind a series and wish to introduce major characters some writers begin with a novella by means of launching a series. Others like myself use a novel to launch a character, Crach Ffinnant – The Prophecy being a prime example. Nevertheless, your story may be nearing the end if it’s writing or things may get in the way and for many, a common problem is ‘writers block’. Ideas and themes seem like a desert, dry and not very productive on a practical level and emotionally draining, tiresome and frustrating for the creative mind on another. So what do you do, cut an ear off? Somewhat extreme perhaps, Van Gogh must have regretted his actions as will you if you are hard on yourself.

‘Writers block’ is simply your mind saying ‘have a day off’. We should never force the creative process of storytelling and perhaps should consider using exercises to encourage intuitive writing in order to be alive within our story. If we are ‘alive’ in the story the reader will be drawn in to your words like the images of a good film.

For me I become my characters as I write about them and subsequently get to know them well in terms of personality and behaviour. I suppose we can liken it to acting, jumping from one character to the next, making it up as you go. That is ‘intuitive writing’. The best stories are often written this way around theme-work and storyline. When I invented Septimus Tupp my mind was full of a fat, idle and pretty useless gluttonous monk who would do anything to avoid work. Sadly for him it came as a great surprise in the story when he ended up face down floating in a trout pool. If you have to kill off a character, make it a memorable demise. In fiction, the universe is your oyster and as Jon Luc would say, ‘Make it so!’

My genre is historical fiction set in the 1400’s and so a certain amount of research is often needed. Nothing better in storytelling than embellishing fact with fiction. The simple point of course is, it matters not what you write, if you have a story inside you, develop it and give birth to your ideas, make them come alive. To be honest I suppose I may write in this genre because I find it more comfortable than ‘real life in the here and now’. But what storyteller does not?

So your story is written and you sit back and heave a sigh of relief.

Well just take a deep breath. Put your feet up and leave the manuscript alone for a few days, you deserve the rest, the easy bit is behind you. Now comes the heart wrenching and tear jerking, frustrations and sleepless nights. You have to read it. Reading through and noting possible changes as the pages are turned, especially grammar, fleshing out character descriptions, correcting errors, formatting and editing your manuscript. In my limited experience, this process takes as long as writing a story and is the reason why many authors fail to get in to print. Fortunately, if you are simply a storyteller and have difficulty in editing and formatting, Words Matter Publishing offers support and services, so if you have a budget contract the services you need. If like me you have little disposable income then you have to do the work to reduce the amount your publisher must do to bring you to market. If you do not have the skills now, believe me you will develop them.

Let’s just take ‘five’ and remember the reality of being a storyteller wishing to become a published author. You must strive to have in simplest form …..

A great original story told in a creative way

Characters that bring the storyline alive and are memorable

Chapters of reasonable length with thought provoking ‘first paragraphs’

Novella or Novel is determined by the length of your story

Good grammar, formatted and edited to the best of your ability  

So, you feel happy to have achieved where you are right now and so you should, to have reached this point takes skill, determination and endurance. Now we must face the reality, we are not alone, it is suggested there are a million new authors every year and that my friends is competition and an enormous market place in which to be. Will you make a million dollars from your story, will it be made into a movie? Well I wish you every success but I am happy with telling a good tale. I hope you have found this series, The Art of Storytelling to be a helpful introduction. There are thousands of writing courses out there, do it yourself manuals and publishers but if you have a story to tell. Pick up your pen or tap those keys.

May your quill never run dry!

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