Thursday, October 23, 2014

Writing Your Second Story

Robert Ellis

Everybody's got one in them. I truly believe that. Everybody has a story in them that's probably a story worth telling. Whether you have the ability or interest to tell that story is another question. But everyone has an idea that comes from the things they've seen, heard, and experienced in life. If you're writing novels and you're really good, it's more than possible, I'd say it's actually more than probable, that you still only had one story worth telling. From my point of view, the only thing more difficult than writing a novel would be trying to make a career as a standup comic. After that first HBO Special, very few people seem to be able to come up with something fresh and new that isn't in some way a derivative of their original act. And when we see either a novelist or a comic or any artist at all actually pull off that second effort, at least when I do, it always feels so great watching them beat the odds.

Beating the Odds, the Great One, Lewis Black
So if that first effort came out of a writer's experiences in life and everything just clicked, where's this second work going to come from if the bucket's dry? If you play music, you've been studying music since you were a child. If you make art, you've spent years studying art and seeing how it's changed and developed over time. If you design buildings, then you've studied both engineering and architecture. If you dance, you've spent years working with an instructor and studying those who came before you. If you write screenplays, you've spent years studying your art and the entire history of film. No doubt you have a good sense of exactly what comes next.

Master Story Class by a Real Master, John Truby
So if you're going to write the great American novel, if you're going to tell a story that works from the very beginning to the very end, if you're going to create an entire world that stands on its own, an alternate universe that feels complete and real, characters that walk and talk and remind your readers of someone they know in real life, if you're going to tackle the most difficult and complicated art form known to human kind, then you're going to what? Wing it? Is that what you're going to tell your readers when they show up at a book signing? It was magic. It came from the gods. I sat down and just did it.

Yeah, right ... 

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