Storytellers.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

This week on the Equals Record: wondering, as a writer, what it takes to become a good storyteller.


An excerpt from the new post: "In the tenth grade, I wrote a short story for my English class that was told from the point of view of a man on death row. The same year, I wrote another piece from the perspective of a little boy who heard voices. I followed that with yet another, about an inner city teenager who’d been kicked out of school. (Clearly, at fifteen, I was interested in exploring the darker side of the human experience.) I received good marks on these stories at the time; still, they’re pieces that embarrass me now—full of vague details and street slang I didn’t know how to use. These were stories I didn’t know how to tell. Today, as a writer, I still doubt my story-telling abilities. Essays, I can handle. Interviews are no problem. But a story is a different animal."


See the post in its entirety on the Equals Record, here. The archive for my weekly column, Looking Forward (about the ups and downs of "growing up" in my twenties), can be found here. Thank you so much for reading!

Top images by Lou Mora. Bottom image via The Little Mermaid. (Quote from Barabara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible. Thanks, Megan.)

10 comments:

tara said...

I love reading your writing!!

And I totally know what you mean-I HATE when my niece wants a story. It's like when someone wants to hear a joke and you can only remember that horribly inappropriate one.

Putting yourself in weird situations can definitely make for great stories. I went to laugh yoga once and only stayed because I knew it would be a funny story. :)

Anonymous said...

i love that quote!

Shoko said...

Tara, thank you! Laugh yoga sounds amazing - you should write about it :)

theshellhammer said...

Writing stories down and then reading them years later is somehow so embarrassing; everytime! Sometimes I hate what I wrote in my journal yesterday, let along when I was 15. But it's good to know others think this way as well.

And The Poisonwood Bible is one of the most beautiful books. Thanks for sharing!

--Alex

Unknown said...

I like to tell a visual story, with photos. Here's an example: http://obsessivision.com/projects/sheep-shearing/

Julie said...

Definitely feel you on the story-trepidation. That's the main reason I dove into blogging, and am dragging my feet on any large-scale creative project (i.e. novel). But...you just have to start, right?

Shoko said...

Alex, yes, it's one of my favorites!

Julie, absolutely!

Melody Rowell said...

Have you read Stephen King's memoir On Writing? It's fantastic. In it, he says the most important commandment in writing isn't to write what you know-- it's to tell the truth. He explains that you may not know for yourself what it's like to explore Mars, for example, but you have to tell the truth about what your astronaut character would do when given such an opportunity.
I'm with you, though. I think my best writing comes from stories I've experienced first-hand, but I hope some day to tell the truth about something I've never done myself.

Shoko said...

Melody, I haven't! But I would love to read it - it sounds great. And yes, I hope to someday reach a place where I can do some non-experience-based truth-telling, too! (Enough hyphens in that last sentence for you? :)

Akiko said...

I always enjoy your article on the Equals Record. I'd love to read your story, you must be really good at it! To me it seems more difficult to write about what I feel (essays?) than story-telling. You're an amazing writer! xo akiko
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