Story—The Journey from Darkness toward Light, from the Existential Scream to the Universal Sigh

help writing story

Here’s the thing, being human isn’t easy. We are human and we are animal—savage and tender, mindful and thoughtless, loving and cruel, base and divine—and then toss our heart and spirit into the mix and try telling our story. Wait, shhhh, hear that existential scream? Yup, understanding the complexities of human nature is an ongoing challenge. If you have any desire to try, and if you are a writer, painter, musician, actor, creative seeker of any stripe, you are a storyteller and you are on the journey toward transformation and this is a gift. When it comes to story, transformation …

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#NaNoWriMo2015–Get to the Heart of Your Story (writing tip #19)

Okay, for today’s tip, here I go again, talking about staying curious about what your protagonist wants. And, remember, our fictional heroes are extreme–they go after what they want with an intensity that can be frightening and invigorating and freeing. They are bigger than life and we can watch them slip and slide and struggle and push and yearn and obsess to the extreme, whether their story is a tragedy or a comedy. So back to the want. I wrote a very personal blog post a few years ago about going through the death of my marriage and how the …

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#NaNoWriMo2015–Get to the Heart of Your Story (writing tip #14)

When it comes to understanding the story you are writing, teachers stress the importance of knowing what your hero desires, yearns for, desperately wants! They will probably remind you that her goal (want) is something that can be measured externally, in the world. It’s also a very good idea, they say, to know the meaning your hero attaches to getting what she wants. This meaning is internal, having to do with her most vulnerable emotional wounds. Example: She will do almost anything to get that promotion because then she’ll feel validated and successful (instead of feeling like the failure in her …

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#NaNoWriMo2015–Get to the Heart of Your Story (writing tip #13)

In my work as a coach and consultant, I read manuscripts on a regular basis. Often, I can identify what’s working–or not–within the first 20 pages. Whether you are aiming to sell to a traditional publishing house, or you are going the independent publishing route, your story must hook your reader (agent, editor, or bookstore browser) on page one. Powerful prose is great–as long as you’re using it to tell a story with an engine. I call that “engine” the story equation, and it represents the cohesion and chemistry of the most important story elements: the story catalyst, the event that hooks the reader; the dilemma (sometimes …

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COACHING QUESTIONS TO KEEP YOU ON COURSE

When I was nineteen I started a business with a partner and we called it “Hat Trick Hats”. We wanted to be portable. We sold our hand-stitched leather creations on the sidewalks of Santa Barbara and on the Wharf and Union Square in San Francisco. We wanted to be free to make our own designs and decisions and we accomplished both. We needed to make a living and sometimes we actually ended the month with a financial surplus! Of course that money was quickly spent to replenish our supplies to make more hats. Our goal was never to get rich—and …

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