When I am developing a book, song or image, I sometimes think about its salability.
More often than not, I write because I enjoy what I writing. I watched a movie recently distributed on DVD and video streaming outlets (though none of the lists I found even mentions “vudu.com”; which I personally feel is a terrific site, not really certain why) last night, called “Passengers”.
The character Aurora Lane, brilliantly played by Jennifer Lawrence, is the daughter of a former Pulitzer prize-winning writer. She is engaged in a conversation with her fellow passenger regarding just why she decided to leave behind all of her friends and family to undertake a 120-year trip to a distant planet. This insightful conversation includes some pearls of wisdom, given to her by her father, regarding what can separate good writing from exceptional writing.
Her character quotes her father once saying, “If you live an ordinary life, all you will have are ordinary stories”.
As a writer, I agree wholeheartedly with that statement.
As a former sailor, I quite literally sailed all over the world. I have been to some of the finest areas in countries and islands that many people dream of. I have also been in slums and back alley dives that many would avoid. I have come to know or meet thousands of people. I have been afforded the opportunity to marry a fellow human being who has not only enriched my life, but has shown me what a happy life really means, with all of its arguments, kisses, challenges and smiles.
I have come to know loss. I have come to know reward. I have had lovers in my time and have hurt just as many along the way. As I have matured, so have my stories. My characters all reflect the love, hurt, anger, frustration, desperation, sadness and all those feelings that make us who we are.
Having knowledge of the outside world helps me as a writer…a lot.
There is something to be said about living in this world, as well as writing about it. If I want someplace dingy or forgotten, perhaps I might remember a back alley of unmarked shops and warehouse doors in Wanchai, Hong Kong.
My style as a writer has changed as I have aged.
If you truly feel you are a writer, or you have struggled to find something to write about, how about experimenting with an exercise that many “old-timers” were exposed to? Find a drawing, image, picture or photograph that catches your eye and create your story, imagining that your character move through a life that from what you allow them to see. Let them discover their world one piece at a time, as you slowly begin to paint your own picture. Add some romance to their life. Perhaps some twist of fate, or even trouble that ensues from a place they visit every day. Get that character into trouble…something small, perhaps. Then allow the trouble to bloom, to blossom into an all-out nuclear explosion of a problem. Stick to the weaknesses and the strengths of the character in your world. Don’t “overblow” the rules of the world you create, don’t invent anything new. The challenge of your story will be to overcome the issues you create with the talents of your character.
Now, my friend, you are on your way to creating a truly great story.