Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What's Your Story?

Yesterday was one of those magical life moments. I celebrated my 20th anniversary with my husband.

We met in college, in our junior year. He was sitting in front of me in a class and I thought he was cute so I passed him a note. We ended up passing notes back and forth for three days without ever actually speaking a single word to each other. On the fourth day, it was a freezing, stormy Boston day, and I asked him if he'd like to come over and have some hot chocolate and a real conversation. He did, and drank the whole mug, left to go to his 6 p.m. class, came back at 9, and basically never left. Now that I've been married to him for 20 years, I know that he absolutely hates hot chocolate.

Why am I sharing this with you? Because everyone has a story. The story of their relationships, the story of their friendships, the story of their career, the story of the moment of greatest joy or deepest grief, the story of the roads taken and not taken. These stories are the real fabric of life, the universal truths that we can write about that readers can dive in and relate to that make our stories more personal and believable.

If you're stuck in your writing, or you want to flesh out a relationship between your characters more fully, take a few minutes and pick a story or two from your own life and write about it in detail as if it were happening to the characters in your story. Chances are, when writing from your own personal treasure trove of memories, you will tend to remember little details that set the mood and propel the story. Things like: a song that was playing, if it was the most beautiful day ever or driving rain, the look on someone's face, how you felt inside, etc. Though you may never actually incorporate this story into your own, it will help you reach in and find the honesty in the piece you want to work on.


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