Hi! Before I launch into the background, setting, characters, and storyline, I wanted to explain a bit about how I write a story. It’s strange how different the method of story writing is from the method of poetry writing. I’ve been writing poetry for over 40 years, but I’ve never been able to figure out how I write poetry. I promise to let you all know as soon as I figure that one out, but I am beginning to understand how I write a novel, this being my second novel already. I really thought my first novel, Why is Unit 142857 Sad? or the Tin Man’s Heart, was destined to be a singleton, a one-off. My father was always the story-teller. I read stories to my three sons but I was never able to spin yarn the way my father could so naturally, until about a month after he passed away. That is when I got the knack. I don’t want to talk about genetic transference or passing on the torch from generation to generation. It just happened. Accept it.
Stories can’t be forced into existence, good stories anyway. Stories start out as the germ of an idea. The idea can be a rough storyline, like a war between two human species but one in which we are the more primitive, it can be a set of main characters, it can be a setting like another planet, or it can be a combination of these elements. The storyline creates a kind of carrier wave on which the interactions among the characters transpire over a backdrop of the setting. If the story is viable, it will start to write itself. I mean it will evolve organically. Stories, the viable kind, have their own logic, which can be as persuasive as any axiom or syllogism. You have to listen to your story as you are writing it and be ready to change directions, if the story demands it. You have to trust the story. It wants to be written as much (if not more) as you want to write it.
While I am waiting for the story to start writing itself, I map out the terrain of the story. That is done relatively quickly. It feels a little like the way the Israels conquered the Sinai Desert in 1956 and 1967. They flew over the enemy fortresses and soldiers and parachuted down into the Mitla Pass near the Suez Canal. Then they worked their way back attacking the enemy from behind. I write down a few segments of the beginning of the story, jump to the end and write a few more segments, then work my way backwards and forwards from the middle, filling in the gaps until I achieve critical mass, the point at which the story becomes viable and starts telling itself. When I’m mapping out the terrain, I don’t write sequentially. I see a gap between two story points and I figure out how to fill it. Even before the story becomes viable, it starts to talk to me. The more there is of it, the more it talks. That’s why you have to get it out of your head and “on paper”; otherwise you won’t be able to hear it talk or, if you do hear it, you won’t remember what all it said to you.
That is why there is no synopsis yet. I am still mapping out the terrain of the story and I still don’t know how it will end; however, as you will see for yourselves, it is quite a storyline. The next post will discuss the background, the characters, and the setting. The one after that will discuss the storyline.
Sit back and enjoy the blog. If you are a budding story writer yourself or you would like to see how the story turns out, you might subscribe to this blog. I’d love to get your comments. If you like it, hit the button.
Mike Stone, Ra’anana Israel