By Richard Doetsch
Every successful author will tell you to be a great writer you must write every day. True. But that doesn't hone your craft as a story teller. I don't care how well you write, how good your prose is, how deep your vocabulary is, in this day and age, story is king.
As writers of fiction, we need to distinguish ourselves, make our stories stand apart. How many police procedurals are out there? How many stories of love lost and found; how many tales of the handsome detective/Navy SEAL/Covert Agent are there? What makes the great ones stand out? Great original story.
I have what I call the everyday story file. Every single day I jot down a quick story, I have been doing it for a long time and so I have amassed a large file of stories which I have drawn on to write novels, Vooks, and movies.
Creating compelling stories is an art. So often when someone finishes a novel they take the first or second idea that has been floating in their head for months and run with it. But what if you have a file of ideas to draw on, a file with over 300 ideas in it?
If you want to write a great story you have to create a new story every day. Every single day, 365 days a year. Nothing big. No more than a page, usually just a quick paragraph or two, maybe the three act approach. Write anything, write something out of your comfort zone, write something no one would believe you would write. Granted most of the ideas will probably stink, you may not want to repeat them to anyone, but think of this: if only five percent of those ideas are good, that's 18 good ideas! And If 1% are great that's 3 great ideas.
Of course you may marry some of your ideas together and come up with something completely different. But more importantly, you will open your mind, you will tap that well spring of creativity, the place where your childhood imagination ran wild.
By doing this you will hone your craft as a story teller, because after all, the public wants great stories, new stories, Hollywood and publishing want the next great idea. If you only ponder a story a few times a year you might get lucky once in a while but in this day and age we can't rely on luck.
By example, The 13th Hour was an idea I had on April 26th 2008 of a story told in reverse, I had another idea from January 14th 2008 that involved a man going back in time in one hour increments to save his wife who had already died. I put them together and wrote The 13th Hour in July 2008.
Embassy was an idea from February 2009 that was sparked as I was walking by the Russian Consulate on the upper east side of Manhattan. It was a what if scenario about a hostage crisis within the walls of a foreign Embassy in New York, a place that U.S. law enforcement can't enter.
And The Thieves of Darkness encompasses six different ideas that ended up fitting together like a jigsaw puzzle.
So when you listen to all the experts out there, all the people that say write everyday, you should listen, but just as important you should create every day, dream every day, formulate a story every single day and file it away.
And think of it this way, you get to free your mind for fifteen minutes from your current writing assignment. How great is it to let the mind wander, to go anywhere it wishes or is taken? If you don't believe me, try it for a month and see what happens, you will be surprised what you come up with.
Hope all is well with all.