Below are several archived tips from the former “Getting to the Story” category. Though some tips were created or edited by the current guru, James Gapinski, most are the original creations of past Life Tips gurus.
Establish Regular Writing Time
Tip created and edited by James Gapinski
Writer’s block happens to everybody at some point, but you can help avoid unnecessary bouts of frustration and unproductiveness by establishing a proactive writing routine.
Dedicate certain times during the day to writing. Eventually you’ll get in tune with the schedule, and when the writing hour dawns, your mind will instinctively slip into author-mode.
What Makes You Happy?
Think of objects, people, or animals that make you the happiest. Using these in stories will help you create positive and engaging energy in your stories or other creative writing pieces. Because happiness is such a strong emotion, it's important to use it whenever possible.
Write the Story Backwards
Tip edited by James Gapinski
If you have a great story idea, but don't know how to start it, start at the ending. Write the ending first and work your way backwards. You'll have a great story in no time.
Drawing on basic emotional experiences
A story can, on one level, be "about" something in the abstract emotional sense. Shame, fear, regret, disappointment, the sense of having failed...These are the emotional elements that cause us to act in life. So consider crafting stories inspired by these emotions.
*My most shameful act
*My most painful betrayal
*My most profound regret about someone no longer living.
The unavoidable heart of the matter
Dig deep into the heart of situations you have found yourself in in the past. A story lies not in the infinite mix of details that beget a scene, but in the one unavoidable fact that alone necessitates action from the character. A bank teller is robbed by the kid she used to babysit. A man believes his wife has secretly terminated her pregnancy. Etc. When deciding to recreate a story on paper, you must distill it to the one element that keeps it from going in any other direction and work outward from there. If there’s no *one* element, it may not be the story you want to tell.
Stories about Shame
What are you most ashamed of? The subject of shame is simply fascinating. You can be ashamed of just about anything for just about any reason. Cheated on your girlfriend? Didn’t visit your aunt in the hospital? Made a bad showing at the reunion? You could probably write shame stories for years on end. It is that pervasive to the human experience. We all have things that we wish we had or hadn’t done, and it’s not simple regret. Explore the various shames of your life, and extrapolate from the life stories of others. Shame will get characters moving in some amazing ways!
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