It is difficult to grasp…for me… six hundred stories. Yes, this is my six hundredth story on StoryStar. This one happens to be a “True Story”. You can look them all up. You can read every one of them (which would flatter me beyond words). You can have an opinion on them: good, bad, indifferent, horrible, beautiful, that is your choice. You are the reader.
I don’t write like most folks. My grammar is atrocious, my punctuation abysmal, and my spell checker died of exhaustion years ago. I don’t write “First Drafts”. I just write the story the first time out. No corrections. No rewrites. No editing. Some of my stories with just a bit of editing or polish, would be well written pieces. But they wouldn’t be mine.
I have a friend who writes single page letters to me…once a week. He may do as many as twenty drafts of that letter before he sends it out. Believe me, they are works of art. Not a single wasted word. Immaculate punctuation and grammar combined with a clean pure prose. If you ever have the pleasure of reading his works…well, you won’t ever have to correct anything.
I don’t write like that. I sit down. An Idea hits me. I start typing. I don’t get up until the story is done. Then I post it. I know how important all those writing tips are. Writing should be clear, concise, and tell a story. I just tell the story and hope I made it clear enough for the reader to join in on the journey.
I don’t write for Academia- or I would at least check it for style, punctuation, tense and spelling. If I wrote for a Newspaper or Magazine, I would probably try to up my literary game. I write for me. I have to get the story out. I want the reader to enjoy it, think about it, or make a connection with it. But once it is posted, how the reader thinks and feels about it…is out of my control.
Six hundred stories have taught me a lot. It turns out every writer I know, or find interesting, is also an avid reader. This is my six hundredth story. I have read four times that many stories on StoryStar. Almost 2,500 stories I got to enjoy. For every story I have posted, I have commented on at least four other stories on StoryStar.
Writers are readers.
Some Author’s on StoryStar have only put up a handful of stories, but almost every one of them is a gem. Others have put up dozens…and just like me, some are good, some are great. Some, well, let’s be kind and say it wasn’t my best effort. But I wrote them all.
If you only have a story or two to tell, then tell them. If you have dozens- that is fine too. Some folks write beautiful prose, but are afraid to put them out to the Public…so they write a journal, or keep manuscripts in the desk drawer. They read all of our stories on StoryStar until they get brave enough to put it out there. I admire anyone who writes any story, in any format or genre, and shares it. It takes a bit of courage to put a story out there.
Maybe it will get read, or rated. Maybe not. But you wrote it! Good on you.
Looking back at six hundred stories gave me some perspective. I once had a writer friend tell me that who you are, or want to be, shows up in your characters or stories. That your philosophy of life, love, and purpose will also be hidden in the plots, twists and characters you bring to life in your story.
She was right.
It is quite apparent in my Romance Stories that I believe in love at first sight. I also see myself in some of the characters. My stories reveal that I wish I was taller, had big hands, was quiet, rich, and helpful. They also reveal that I wish I was kinder, more forgiving, tolerant, and gentle. Many of my characters share these traits that I wish I had.
In many of my stories the ending is either happy, hopeful, or promising. People get along, grow, fall in love, and forgive. It is a world view I didn’t know I had in me. In my later stories another emotion is becoming more prevalent…contentment. I am old now and health issues have forced me to acknowledge that most of my life and all of my youth is behind me. That, dear reader, sounds sad. It is not.
Because it forces me to stay in my “now” most of the time. It makes me think about how lucky I am to be alive. To have people around me who care. To be able to walk, read, talk, and have a small meal or a cup of tea. Those used to be taken for granted by me- they aren’t any longer. There was a time recently where I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t go downstairs. I couldn’t go outside.
When my daughter and wife helped me down those steps to the driveway. I just stood there in the sunlight and basked in the joy of just being outside. I leaned on them both, my canes in my hands, closed my eyes and let the sunlight play against my eyelids. That was as far as I could go that day. It was enough.
I was in a good mood the whole day. I had gone outside, leaning on people I love, and just soaking in the greenery, blue skies, and sunlight. It didn’t cost money, it wasn’t an exotic location, I didn’t have to take a plane, or train, or boat, or travel to a different country. No. I simply went down the twelve steps from our Garage Apartment and stood in the driveway. It was marvelous.
I was so filled with gratitude, thankfulness, and humbled by the glory of it all, that I included that moment in this, my six hundredth story. Why? Because it is part of my story. It shows, at least I think it does, that we all have stories that we think are too mundane, simple, or common to be told. Tell them. Your story is yours to tell.
I like writing about Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance and Human Kindness. I dipped into a bit of Western Stories, and even one “horror” story. I don’t write poetry or mystery stories. I can’t. Those aren’t the kinds of stories I like to tell.
I think growth and forgiveness are two themes that show up in almost all my stories. I am also learning to write shorter more powerful stories. Just the words you need to give the reader a chance to enter your world- then call upon the reader to flesh out some of the story on their own.
Surely I must have learned something after writing six hundred stories. Some tips, or techniques that are worth passing on. I did. So here they are- in no particular order or rank.
Short and strong beats long and good.
Take out as many “and's, but’s, or’s” as you can.
Let the reader know enough to follow the story or characters- but don’t give them every little detail.
Write what you know, think about, or have experience with.
I write the way I talk. Writing is not written speech, so that method isn’t good for everyone. Find the method that works for you.
Be brave. Put your work out there.
And lastly (and most real writers hate adverbs!) tell your story. Your way. It is okay to mimic your favorite author’s style until you find your voice. Don’t copy them, just learn from them.
Then tell your story your way.
In my stories, the guy will be tall, with huge hands, a quiet personality, be generous and kind. The girl will be intelligent, sweet, a flexible rock, with enough love to forgive and move on. Even the Aliens try to help.
Kindness almost always shows up. Just behind Love and just ahead of Forgiveness.