Just finished teaching a five day course on 'secrets of story'.
the main 'secret' was that you can make a story out of anything as long as you re-use elements that are there in the beginning.
You have a squirrel, a car horn and a banana. The squirrel tries to stop the old style horn by shoving a banana into it. But the banana blasts out. It hits someone in the back of the neck. The horn is still sounding. The angry person pushes the squirrel. The squirrel pushes back and almost steps on the banana. He avoids it carefully. But then a policeman calls to him about the car. He looks up, turns, and now of course slips on the banana. Or something like that- this story was made simply by thinking of ways to reuse three things. You might think you already do this but I find most story makers are looking forwards, running a little fast, to the next thing. Instead of looking back at their stock of toys, images, people and finding ingenious ways to re-use them. Storymaking is all about parsimony.
I've long been interested in polymathy and written about it here and for Aeon magazine. I found though that the subject is both engaging and elusive, it sort of slips through your fingers. People like the concept of polymathy but then think 'what next'. Today i realised the thing holding people back is a fear of learning something new. For whatever reason. Often they have ceased to give themselves permission to learn something new (reasons being - too old, too busy, not talented etc). My breakthrough is Micromastery- because it- ABOVE ALL ELSE- restores the permission to be interested in whatever you want. It restores the permission to learn. Anyway after that trumpet burst I just want to remind the loyal readers out there the book is coming out in May courtesy of penguin books...
I used to think a writer learned from other writers by reading a lot and thinking a bit about things after he had read them. I don't think so now. Most books just pass you by.You work out how they 'work'- and that is something, but this is no use to you as a writer, only as a critic. A writer is someone who can write books, not tell you what is wrong with other people's books. In fact several writers I know who are excellent at their trade and successful to boot haven't much of a CLUE what makes a good story or book- but that doesn't matter- they know how to make one.
Bak to learning - you learn instantly from something you admire and are open to. That works, you tell yourself, I'm going to copy that. Of course when you copy it no one can tell because every half decent writer learns early on how to cover their tracks pretty well. But that's the way- BANG- instant knowledge when you SEE something that is right for YOU. Not every book is, but when you find the ones that are, copy mercilessly.
Climbing a high mountain it's tempting to run on ahead, rest and run on. And if you are in the lead this seems to work. But when it gets very high the recovery time becomes inordinately long. You start getting overtaken by the tortoises who's rule of travel is 'never go faster than the pace you can keep up forever without stopping'. Climb a flight of stairs in bounds and you'll be exhausted fast. Climb it by making a single step, bringing the second foot to the same step and then making another, bringing the second foot to the same step and so on - and you'll be able to climb forever.
Habits that you can't maintain forever eventually require so much recovery time the more temperate folk begin to overtake you. If you plan on keeping going the right habit is the one you can keep going with every day of your life.
Andy Warhol said, probably flippantly, 'do everything either every day or once'. Lot of sense in that.
I am teaching with Jason Webster a course on the secrets of story writing and story making for novels, screenplays and short stories
20th- 25th NOVEMBER 2016 Wigtown Scotland
This is the real deal- we teach how to generate great new material not merely edit or critique existing stuff
We do not do lame read-throughs of Casablanca itemising plot points
We teach you how to connect to the ether to mainline the incredible wealth of story material waiting to be used!
We teach the importance of relationships over character
We teach the importance of submission and domination over 'conflict'
We'll show you how to plot effortlessly by stacking the initial idea in your favour
Join us for an incredible £250 course...
any questions email robtwigger (at) g.mail.com