Are you telling the story you want to tell?

If you are telling the story you want to tell, congratulations. You must feel fulfilled as a writer.

As I was compiling my most recent story, I got to the point where I realized I had told everything about this story I had wanted to tell. I would be proud to put my name at the top of it, and whether people like it or not, it is the story I wanted to tell. Period.

This is an incredibly freeing position for a writer to find himself.

I remember some of the reviews of my first novel where some readers felt short-changed because I didn’t elaborate at the end about certain aspects of the story. They said it felt rushed and that all the loose ends weren’t neatly tied. I understood their criticism and thought it through quite a bit until I realized that I had told the story I wanted to tell. I didn’t want to tie certain loose ends because I was intent on keeping the focus on a certain part of the story, which I deemed its backbone. I guess you can say I’m a backbone writer. I don’t deviate off my chosen path. I keep things concise and straight forward with my writing eyes on the end result that I want. It’s great when it coincides with a reader’s expectations, and often it does. But not always.

But that’s okay. If you tell the story you intend to tell, then be happy and move on.

There are many market forces in the book world which could easily pull a writer away from his or her chosen path. And certainly there’s no harm to mix things up and try a new genre or explore an unusual story line one would normally not choose, but I would contend that if you are doing it only for the market, then it won’t be worth it. If you are doing it to grow as a writer or to explore a new interest, by all means go for it. But remember to tell the story you want to tell.

When a writer does this, the passion, heart, and correct level of emotion is much more likely to pop from the story.

So that is why I will never write stories about vampires or werewolves. Or erotica. Or science fiction. Or fantasy or … a myriad of other genres. They simply don’t get me excited. This is also why it’s highly unlikely for a literary agent to knock on my door. My writing wouldn’t be easily mold-able into what is currently popular. To me a good story is just a good story and readers simply want good stories written by writers who follow their hearts, regardless of how maudlin that sounds.

I firmly believe that it is writers unleashed to write their story which will produce the type of end product that everyone, writer and reader, will enjoy.

One last point I want to make is that this doesn’t mean that a writer doesn’t need outside input. Of course, it’s crucial. I have a group of readers who help shape my early manuscripts, and I am always grateful for their candor. But, ultimately, I have to choose that which is best, in my opinion, for my story. That way I can accept all the blame. (and on those rare occasions, laud.)

Is Fictional Storytelling being Diminished in Theatre?

I enjoyed reading THIS¬†opinion piece on fictional storytelling and verbatim theatre. Honestly, I know very little about verbatim theatre and have not had an opportunity to see any verbatim shows up to this point. What is ‘verbatim theatre’ you might ask? It’s theatre which uses the real words of people who have been interviewed. Actors here and use the real words of real people and then act accordingly based on the show’s direction. It’s sounds interesting to me, and I might even like to try it at some point. According to sources I have read, verbatim theatre has moved into the mainstream in the London theatre scene, which is why Ms.Gardner wrote her piece, somewhat lamenting the fact that fictional storytelling seems to be taking a backseat in the theatre, as if real words from real people are more correct in portraying authentic human experience. As Ms. Gardner points out, this is not the case. Fictional storytelling can and does portray human emotions and desires in vivid ways, relate-able to everyone.

While I am no expert about verbatim theatre, I have seen my share of experimental theatre over the years. While I often find the performances interesting, and I’ve even dabbled in different types of performances from time to time, this is nothing like a great story to make great theatre. Modern theatre seems to experiment with everything and anything. Well, hey, I have an idea, let’s experiment with some fictional stories. Some full-length dramas – a full length original musical. Let’s put on a show that has a clear beginning, middle, and end.

Boring, you say? Been done too often, you say?

Not by a long-shot, I reply.

I could be wrong, because I have absolutely no research to back up this statement, but perhaps the general public has pulled away from the dramatic arts because of this very reason – the lack of gripping stories. (Sadly, I’ve run into way too many people who tell me they do not like going to the theatre, but they love watching movies!)

I do have anecdotal evidence. I have heard comments like this from people who occasionally go to the theatre – “that was just weird” – “it was okay, but I didn’t understand it” – “what was the point?”

The fact is, people LOVE stories. People love to be drawn into a character with whom they can relate. They love a plot which twists and turns and keeps them guessing. They love endings which are satisfying. Many people don’t like head-scratchers, and when they see one strange drama too many, they often decide to do other things rather than go to the theatre. And you have to admit, there are an awful lot of entertainment choices out there.

Don’t get me wrong. I love all kinds of dramas – including unique experimental stuff.

But if I ever had a choice, I’d take a gripping, well-written, beautifully plotted out story-line on stage any day of the week.

Here’s hoping that theatre will never forget that we are in the story-telling business.