Creating Magic

How many times has this happened to you? You are sitting around, telling stories, laughing and joking. Then the person next to you starts talking about “This one time”. You don’t really listen as you were part of the story being told. Then suddenly, your friend starts adding in details that you clearly do not remember. You think to yourself, that’s not what happened. In your own memory of the event, things were a lot different. It was a cat, not a dog. And there was only one guy, not four. Everyone remembers things a little differently. Many times our brains fill in the gaps of part of the memory that was missing in order that it makes sense. Plus, who doesn’t like to embellish a story to make it a little scarier, or perhaps add some humor to get a laugh from your friends. When this situation occurs, we become victims of our own craft. What is the retelling of a story, in a different way, not fiction?

All good story tellers have the ability to take what they know, and tell it completely wrong, in order to create a story worth hearing. Remember, creative writing is all about basing a story off an idea. Nobody said there has to be any truth to what you write. No one is telling you that you’re doing it wrong, because there is no wrong. Think about the stories you have written, or read, throughout your life. What are the ones you remember the most? I have posted a couple of my favorite books on here before. The Sneetches, by Dr. Seuss, is based on the idea of equality, and racism. Not a good platform for children to learn. However, getting his point across through the use of imaginative characters, and creative writing, he has now brought his ideas into a message that all can understand and relate to.

If we are to write stories that other want to hear, we take our inspiration, and embellish it. Sometimes, we just flat-out lie about it. Yesterday some of my family got together in the mountains for a dutch oven dinner. My young nephew asked me what charcoal was. I could have given him a standard answer, but being who I am, I knew this was not sufficient. Instead I told him they were magical fire stones mined from deep inside of a volcano. It blew his mind. We spent a good half hour going over made up details about how the stones were gathered and used. He even began wondering if he might ever get to gather his own magic fire stones.

I took an idea, and put a spin on it to create a story. It was a fun and creative way to explain a rather mundane object. Imagination is a wonderful tool for a writer. Without it, our stories would be drab and forgotten. In your own writing, feel free to open your mind to all possibilities. Take something mundane, and give life to it.

D.B. Flint

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Writing Prompt

Sunday, I traveled to a place where music is life, and phantoms do exist. It was I believe my fourth time seeing the Broadway musical, The Phantom of the Opera. Ordinarily I am not a fan of live productions. There is something about this one though that keeps me going back for more. I remember when I was younger watching the silent black and white film version. Saturday afternoon television was either filled with whatever sport was on at the time, westerns, or horror shows. It was a time when Vincent Price still reigned supreme as the king of all things spooky.

From a creative writing view-point the story is genius. Obsession, a love story, a villain who we root for, and loss. The play itself was written to take people through a series of emotion. I always leave wanting more. I always wish I could stay in my seat and wait for the next curtain to go up. That, ladies and gentleman, that is how we want our stories to be. At least that is how I want my stories to be. For those of you who have seen the play, or the movie, help me out here. It’s amazing, right? If you haven’t seen it, put it on your bucket list.

Now to the heart of the matter. I made an observation there that I thought was profound. Patrons were allowed to take their wine, champagne and other beverages inside the theatre, so long as it was in a sippy cup. One like a child would use. Then it struck me how I was watching an adult society being treated like little kids. My mind wanders, as it often does, wondering what a society would be like if adults were still treated like children under the rule of a governing force. Maybe some sort of mutation didn’t allow their brain to grow. Or a genetic defect passed through protein in beef that makes the brain revert to a childlike state. Interesting story potential, right?

If any of you feel creative today, run with it. Write a short story and see what you can come up with.

D.B. Flint

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Stagnation Breeds Creation

And it was all going so well. Too well. A steady stream of words that seemed to never end. And I was good with that.  Or at least I thought I was. Then I had to go and do something stupid like experiment. I ask myself, “why would you do something crazy? You had the story! It was there!” I guess it is more an issue of practice what I preach. I am a firm believer that changing a story up, killing your hero, making a lovable villain, is important. If we don’t add a little something new here and there our stories will stagnate. That brings me to my current predicament. This is to be book 4 of the Treasure Hunter Series. Somewhere in the mix however, I lost the treasure part. I got caught up in character and soon found myself with a weak plot. Seriously, how can I write a book about treasure, if no one finds any treasure?

The down side to this scenario is that I have just opened a can of creativity and started eating it up. I am currently writing less story, and writing more tangents. Imagine, if you will, walking down a path. This is a familiar path. You have Been on it many times. You know where it begins, and you know where it ends. Then one day you find that the path has changed. There are now 5 different paths you can choose, each one of them taking you somewhere different. Do you take the one that is familiar? Do you choose a new one and see where it leads?

In creative writing we know where the story begins, and we generally have an idea of where it will end. Even though we may divert from the path every now and again, we always come out at the end. Can it bog down your writing process? Sure can. Should you let it? Yes, so long as your detour is short and you get back on track when you’re done exploring. You never want to stray so far that you lose yourself amidst thoughts of making it better. This is fiction we’re creating. It’s okay to have a look around and test the waters, but not at the expense of your story.

As for me, the journey continues much the same. I will keep exploring new avenues, but sooner, rather than later, I will be back behind the wheel and driving the story forward.

D.B. Flint

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Using Words To Create Emotion

Just as most people do, I have certain times in my life, snippets of memory that hold some significance. These little flashbacks of memory are what many times can help us create our stories. In some cases, it may be one little memory that tells a whole story. When teachers and writers tell you to “write what you know”, this is what they are talking about. It is one thing to hear a story, it is quite another thing to experience one. As creative writers, our job is to allow our readers to experience the story. Who better to tell them what dying feels like, then someone who is dying? Who better to explain fear, then someone who is afraid?

The house that I grew up in had an irrigation ditch that ran down the side of the property. One afternoon, it was during the summer I believe, my little sister fell into the ditch and drowned. I was very young at the time; I don’t recall my age because for this memory, it isn’t important. What is important are the events that happened as soon as someone realized she was missing. Some of the little flashes are just pictures.  I remember people calling her name, everyone started running around the yard and into the house. I remember my dad running down the length of the ditch until he found her. She was in the water, face up. She was grayish blue.

Dad pulled her from the water. He tried breathing life back into her. It was no use. At that moment, she was gone. In those few seconds, the fear, the panic, clawed at everyone. I’m not sure I even understood what death was at the time. I just knew something was very wrong. We lived in a small town and the hospital was just four blocks away. I don’t recall him getting to the car, just the sight of him throwing her limp body on the seat before kicking up a cloud of dust as the car roared off to the hospital.

Sometime after that there was a phone call. My little sister was alive. She had been revived at the hospital. That is where that memory ends. There is nothing after that. There is nothing before it. I am sure there were more tears and endless days of lectures on the dangers of the irrigation ditch. None of that was relevant enough to be recorded in my mind. What was recorded was fear, and the fear of the unknown. I share this with you to illustrate a point. It is one thing to tell you I have a fear of drowning so I won’t go swimming at the lake. It is quite another to bring you on the journey with me that explains why I have that fear in the first place.

As writers, we give our stories life by borrowing off what we know. Even though I was very young at the time, I have just enough memory to tell a tale of why someone would be afraid of the water. The rest we can fill in as it fits into the story, but the raw emotion, the image that gut punches you, that can only come from experience. You want to be successful? Dig deep. Go into that place where pain lies in wait for you to bring it to the surface, then use it. When you can pass on emotion through your words, that’s when you really begin writing.

D.B. Flint

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Talk About Story Ideas!

You may have noticed my posts have been sporadic the past couple weeks. Fear not, I am still here doing what I always do, with some minor changes. The one that is taking most of my time currently are the new additions to my family. Those that know me well, know that I am a believer in family first. To that I introduce you all to the Magpies, (Individual names still in the works). They were found by a neighbor after falling from their nest. Not wanting to take care of them, they soon found their way into my house. Magpies are native here so my hope is to get them to maturity then turn them loose. My daughter has other plans. Either way, it has been an exciting undertaking so far.20170518_133840.jpg

I will say this however, I have never in my life heard such a racket as when they are hungry. And they are always hungry. 20170518_133631.jpg

Now for the inspiration for your creative writing. The Magpie is seen as an omen in many cultures. Although most people believe it is an ill omen, some believe it a sign of love. Lets be serious though, ill omens are far better for story telling. What would Edgar Allen Poe think of a clutch of Magpies found in his parlor? How would the great Stephen King use a Magpie in one of his thrillers? I myself have already seen an image of a tattered old man with a Magpie on his shoulder as his one true companion. Perhaps in my story, it is not the Magpie that is an omen, but the man.

How would a story go if the Magpie was a manifestation of a broken soldiers mind after seeing his comrades being feasted on after battle, whispering in his ear the ways of revenge? Endless possibilities. Just another example of how you can take an ordinary thing, and spin it to an extraordinary story.

Over the next couple of weeks I am going to be working on my own short story of the Magpie. who knows, maybe it will be a three page best seller. Strange things are said to happen when a Magpie is witnessed.

Last thought, if you want to help me name them send me some suggestions via email or comment below. Lets see how creative you can be.20170518_133846

D.B. Flint

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How To Push the Story Forward.

How do we keep our stories moving forward? Not always an easy task. I very recently, yesterday in fact, came to a point where the story stalled. I was writing, things were flowing, then without warning…WHAM! Dead end. It felt like I just had the wind knocked out of me. It was all going so well, and then I lost it. I did some writing exercises, took a break, did some reading, but still I was stumped. I was frustrated beyond belief. I’m a creative writer! This is my story, my words, my writing. Everything in this book has come from my own vision of a story. So, I wondered, how is it possible for me to lose my own way. Short answer, I was losing my mind. Long answer, I just needed to calm down and remember something I learned years ago. That every word, every sentence, is there to propel the story forward.

To push a story forward, your characters need something to challenge them, emotionally, morally, or physically. Look at it this way, you are writing a story about a hitman, but the same story has already been told a thousand times. You want your story to stand out…but how? We send something at him that he wasnt expecting. Such as, nobody needs his services. You now have a hitman who has no one to kill. Sounds like a problem. How do you get around that? As writers, we created the brick wall that now stands in the hitman’s way. Now it is our job to help him get past this obstacle. First we ask why? Why is there no one to kill? Is he a lousy hitman? Did the world suddenly run out of people to kill?

Already your creative brain is churning out ways to fix the problem. What you have just done is challenge your character in a way that will force him to move forward. Who knows, maybe forward is to tell the tale of the troubled hitman that suffers from depression and hangs out in bars reminiscing about the old days. Maybe your hitman will seek out new ways to fill the void by taking up knitting blankets for the children’s hospital. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is that your story is once again moving forward. Ideas are flowing and you’re back on track. Don’t be afraid if this changes your story. The important thing is to keep writing. Revision is where you can fix what you don’t like. For now, just write.

P.S. If any of your brains were buzzing with hitman scenarios, I would love to read them and see what you all came up with. Email or post in the comments below.

D.B. Flint

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Book List

Mouse Soup by Arnold Lobel was another favorite of mine. It is four stories inside of another story. The basics are as follows: a mouse is caught by a weasel who intends to make him into mouse soup. The clever mouse devises a plan to save himself from being eaten. He tells the weasel that a good soup needs stories. He then tells the weasel four different stories which make up the ingredients for a proper soup. We follow the weasel as he gathers the ingredients allowing the mouse to escape. hqdefault

I hate to use the word cute, but it really is a cute book. Lobel is also known for his Frog and Toad books. Those are also among my favorite stories. Like many good stories of fiction, it is the ones that are a little quirky that stand out to us. I am still captivated by a good illustrated story as well. Mouse Soup is highly recommended to add to your own list of reading. Yes, it is a kids book. But we are writers of fiction. The stories of our childhood were the fuel for our own creative minds. So go grab a book and be a kid for a while. You might enjoy it.

D.B. Flint

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