I am a very curious person. I value discovery, investigation and data. In fact, most shows I watch have some component of mystery in them, my four favorites (Bones, Castle, Downton Abbey and NCIS) certainly do. I enjoy being exposed to new ideas, cultures and experiences. This trait, this curiosity, has, oddly enough, helped me in my writing. In his wonderful novel Story Engineering (which I highly recommend) Larry Brooks proposes the following method for story creation.
It begins with a four-year-old’s favorite word, why. You start at any point in the plot, and simply ask any combination of whys and what ifs, branching your story out in all directions. This is the first iteration of your plot. I, myself, have used this method, starting with “What if there was a world with magic” and ending with a plot expanding in a multitude of directions focusing on the questions “What if a girl is prophesied to be the savior of a world that becomes patriarchal with no room for a female savior? And how does she fulfill that prophecy?”
This multi-level, multi-directional style of thinking is not one that I, as a highly literal thinker, would naturally gravitate towards. I cannot, however, refute its ability to produce a writable plot. It also, surprisingly enough, helps an author discover, and set down on paper, traits about the characters and setting, something that is essential when writing High Fantasy especially.
I find that an innate curiosity, or desire to learn, is essential for anyone who wants to excel as a fiction writer. For what is fiction, but a lesson about a made up reality? As an author, I must first be curious enough about the land of Alinzar and its inhabitants to explore more of it before I expose my readers to all that it has to offer them.
Just as the author must be curious, so must the reader. They must yearn for new insights into distant, imaginary lands, for another culture’s customs to absorb. They must desire new information and must devour it for any story to be successful.
An author’s ability to exercise their creativity and release those results for the world’s consumption depends on the author’s past plots’ ability to draw the reader in, hook, line and sinker.
Do you agree?
PS… This was supposed to be yesterday’s post… I’ll post again tonight, I promise!