Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Finding Stories to Write

I've been working on a couple of stories for a new Chicken Soup for the Soul book. "Where do you find the stories to write about?" a friend asked me.

The stories I'm writing and rewriting right now are on diet and fitness. If you stop and think about it, we've all had a time in our life when diet played a more important part than normal. It may have been last week or twenty years ago. Ask yourself the journalism questions--where, why, who, what and when. Answering that will come up with the facts of the story. Write it, dressing it up with sensory details, and you'll have a story that may sell.

You know that old saying about making lemonade out of the lemons life sends us? The heart attack my husband had a number of years ago gave me material for several stories, one of which is the diet and fitness one I've been working on. I'd much prefer that he hadn't given me that situation to write about, but he did, and maybe writing about it may help others in recovery or prevention of further heart problems.

One place I look for stories is in my memory bank. It's loaded with growing up and school experiences, years and years worth of family members and friends, and great joys and sorrowful events to draw from.

Besides the past, there is the present. When today draws to an end, look back at the places you went, people you saw, and things you did. There will be any number from that list that could be the basis for a story. What about the checker with the bandaged arm and bruised cheek? What happened to her?  Or the man who runs the shoe repair shop who had no smile for you today. He's always smiling and a happy-go-lucky kind of guy. What might have changed his demeanor? Why did it bother you to see his personality change? Maybe your kids set up a howl over a new recipe you tried for dinner. Could be a great story there. Train yourself to look for the everyday stories. They're right in front of you.

The children's department of our public library has a Sunday afternoon "Read To A Dog" ongoing program. That's got to be a great story waiting to be written, and one of these days, I'm going to do it.

I've never had a problem with finding stories to write. More often than not, it's when to write them or how to begin.

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