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What’s your story, Morning Glory?

December 13, 2008

I know that the title refers to a rather cheesy song from an even cheesier band, but I think the question is a good one.  If you were to sit down and write your story, what would you include?  I thought at one point that the antics of my tomboy daughter would make a good story, but I got stuck on the title and didn’t go any further.  I know if my mother were to write anything it would be a mystery of the British variety.  My guess is that my father would write a tome recounting the stories of how his family landed in Canada.  At one point I thought my brother would write some sort of cops and robbers story, since he was living in Northern Ireland.   (Little did I know that it’s not really like that there.)  I know that my husband would write about his adventures touring, climbing and, in general, overcoming adversity.  But what really makes a good story?

Well, research is definitely one aspect.  One of my friend’s writing was recently published in an academic work and it goes without saying that she did an enormous amount of research.  However, I just finished reading Water for Elephants and by what the author mentions in the book, she travelled around and did a great deal of research too.  So that makes me wonder.  What is it that makes a great story?  What is it about a story that could make it mean so much to some and so little to others?  I recently loaned a friend Larry’s Party.  I loved Larry and the party.  She thought Larry was a loser that just needed to get his stuff together.  I on the other hand could really relate to him.  (Hmm… I think this is the part where warning bells go off.)  Here’s another variation on the same sort of thing.   I finished reading Atonement after almost 12 months.  I think it took me about 6 months to get through the first 100 pages – granted I wasn’t going at it hard or anything; but still, it took a really long time.  So anyway, when I finished I was sad about it being over as I am with most books.  But, I thought, yeah! I can see the movie.  I absolutely loved the first part of the movie.  It was so true to each and every detail of the book, it made me feel right at home.  Then the famous main actress started to get on my nerves, then the ending was changed and a classic scene from the book was left out.  Here is the scene:  The two lovers are standing on the train platform as the main character leaves them.  This is the last image she has of the two of them.  For me it was a very strong image that reminded me of that famous French photo “The Kiss”.  Either I know absolutely nothing or it makes sense to trade in a clichéd image for a TV talk show.  Note to self:  when making movies (or their more pretentious cousins, FILMS) never get tired in the middle and just hash out any old thing.

I think to write a good story you need the luxury of time.   Have you ever been pressed for it and handed in any old thing?  Well, that happened to me recently.  I told you about that translation on concrete, remember.  Well, I met the VERY tight deadline given to me by the client and he got back to me soon after I had handed it in to him, telling me that there were errors in it, and that while he appreciated my promptness, he wanted them fixed.  When I went back to it after not looking at it for a while, the errors were glaring.  The good news is that I was able to fix them and I even went over the whole document again and improved it.  I know I never did that as a student, not even at the graduate level.  Card-carrying slugs like myself would never be that organized or that intimate with the afore-mentioned luxury.  Which brings me to a possible blog topic:  How do organized people do it?  What’s wrong with them?  Are they aliens?

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Cinny permalink
    February 8, 2009 6:35 pm

    What makes a good story? Well, you have to have build up ideas in your head. You have to remember what you love about certain books, and try to combine them in one for your own novel.

    I suppose you have to be a good writer, with a very good vocabulary, and a wonderful sense of description as well as organization, and as you said, a great deal of time.

    But what you need the most is to want to write the novel, and wait ’till its done before you say “oh, it’s so bad, I should erase everything and start again.’

    If you do that, than you can stop, write, and your story is done.

    I suppose, I would write a deep novel, about what life gives us, and takes away from us, and why. But I would also like to write a novel, that would turn into reality the dreams of children.

    Wow, this was a long comment! I’m proud of myself!

  2. jabertra permalink*
    February 9, 2009 11:58 am

    I just read a book called “Are you somebody” that has to do with exactly what you are suggesting you would like to write a book about. Very interesting!

  3. Cinny permalink
    February 9, 2009 8:06 pm

    i know its cuz i’m DA BEST after all…

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