Tuesday, October 30, 2012

It's All Story-Material

There is one thing you need to know about writers. Nothing bad can ever happen to a writer. Repeat that to yourself: Nothing bad can ever happen to a writer.

I recently heard of a fellow whose mother died at an advanced age. This is tragic. On her death bed she disclosed several facts that dug up skeletons long thought buried which in turn tainted the reputations of several family members. Also tragic.

But hey, these disclosures are also interesting: Aunt Agatha had a child with Uncle Zeke back during the Great War but she married Uncle Elmo while Zeke was deployed in Europe. And then there's the reason why he had to leave town in a hurry when the General Store burnt down. Very tragic.

Tell me more. Or better yet, write it up.

Let's suppose you had the worst day at work and you absolutely despise your boss. Maybe you could write up a scene where he tries to kill you, and you pump him full of lead, but he's a werewolf so the bullets don't kill him. And then you push him out a 10 story window and drop a desk on top of him.

I imagine Larry Correia had something like that in mind when he started writing Monster Hunter International.

Your frustrations are not unique. Many others feel the same way about their jobs or bosses or whatever. Thus they'll relate if you write of injustice suffered at their hands or if you write of messily dispatching an unpleasant acquaintance.

Nothing bad can ever happen to you. Be of good cheer. If life hands you lemons, you've got something to stuff into your potato cannon and shoot at something where they'll make a satisfying splat. It's all story material.

Sartre said, "Hell is Other People," and he probably said so after a family reunion. And if you can't say anything nice about anybody, SIT NEXT TO ME.

There's nothing the writer can dream up that's as engaging as what you'll hear when your buddy is maligning the Russian mail-order bride who broke his heart, took his house, and cheated him out of his VA benefits. Take good notes and write about it.
Those bad things happening to you are just story-material.


  1. Other people's tragic tales are fair game for writers, as long as you change the names and maybe a few of the details. Fun Post.

    1. I agree. I think I did an adequate job of obscuring the names in this cautionary tale of a narcissist.

  2. I've mastered the art of nodding sympathetically while making mental notes... Enjoyed reading this!


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