Sunday, July 18, 2010

Wild Roads

“Any road for my story, huh?”
“Why not?” He leaned back in his chair, obviously enjoying himself. “Haven’t you heard it’s the journey, not the destination?”
“Sir,” I said. “That’s a saying from recent times. Long after you...”
“After I passed on? Come now. How did I know what publishers want these days? Give me some credit.”
“So you know...”
“Of course I know.” He waved his hand in a grand arc. “All of us know. Now let’s get back to your storytelling. That is why you stopped to talk with me isn’t it?”
I nodded. “It seems to me my story won’t have structure if I don’t have a destination for it.”
“It’s not your story. Concentrate on your characters. Give them lives. Give them personalities. Let them take risks. They’ll try to do what they want to do, and if you let them they’ll interact with each other.”
“What if they take off on some wild tangent? What do I do then?”
A wry grin appeared. “Watch them.”
“Sounds like my story could get out of control.”
“Probably.” He steadied his gaze on me. “I’m reminded of something my characters said.”
“What’s that?”
He scratched his head a moment. “Let me see if I can get this right. ‘I don't want to go among mad people,’ said Alice. 'Oh, you can't help that,' said the cat. 'We're all mad here.'”
Until next time, that’s it from The Storyman…

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Traveling Strange Paths

“Ahh..., Charles,” I said.

Mr. Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) shot me an inscrutable stare, as though I didn’t understand him. “Yes?”

“What do you mean, begin at the beginning?”

He shook his head and let out a large sigh. It must have been audible for a hundred yards down the tunnel in either direction, as it reverberated off the dank walls. “Pick a spot, any spot in time, or an event if you’d rather. It doesn’t matter. That’s where you begin.”

He grabbed my attention, just as his white rabbit had when I read about him during my childhood, and with Alice followed him into an adventure. “So I just start?”

A smile spread across his face. “That’s the idea.”

“And I go till I reach the end?”

“That’s what I said, wasn’t it?”

I nodded, afraid to open my mouth and stick my foot in it again.

“Think about it,” he said. “It was a particularly long journey to reach the end of the tale for Herman Melville.”

Moby Dick came to mind. That took awhile to read. “Yes, it was.”

“I hear today, up in the publishing world that shorter is better, so I’d try to take your protagonist down a relatively short journey.”

“How do I know if I’ve chosen the right road for my story?”

That wry smile of his spread up from his mouth and into his eyes again. “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”

Until next time, that’s it from The Storyman