Saturday, December 19, 2009

How to write a story (part five)

   Start early.
   When I was ever so much younger than I am now, my sister and I used to tell each other stories at bedtime. The game was this: come up with three titles to a tale, let the other person pick which one she wanted to hear, and tell the story. Most of the titles were easy to imagine a story for, like, The House in the Woods, or The Only Cat, or A Castle in the Clouds (I'm making these up by the way - I honestly don't remember a single title or story). And I think I used to try to make one title sound more interesting than the others because it was the one I had an idea for. Usually, this worked; my sister would pick the correct title and get a half-way decent off-the-cuff story made up by a 12 year old. But somtimes she would pick the wrong title, the one I had no clue what it was about. Still, I'd  have to come up with something and maybe that forced my imagination to work, exercised it, made it grow.
   Admittedly, some of my early efforts were cheap copies of things I'd read, like the story I wrote about a girl who tamed a wild horse. But others were downright imaginitive, like the Thanksgiving essay I wrote in 5th grade from the turkey's point of view or The Pearl Mouse, which I co-authored with my best friend Dawn D'onofrio.
    I guess I've always wanted to tell stories, even from the time I was young enough to get sent to bed early (a punishment my sister relished because that meant we could entertain one another until we fell asleep). And while I don't make up titles on the spot anymore I do make up a lot of stories. The hard part now is sticking to one.

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