The flashbulb went off, illuminating the scene with a grizzly, stark light. Blood splattered the walls like a sick Jackson Pollock. And that was the nicest thing about it. The less said about the entrails, the better. Police officers and detectives gingerly stepped around the room, collecting what might be evidence.
Maxwell Brogue, however, was getting sick.
He stood at the door, covering his nose and mouth with a handkerchief. The smell. Oh God, the smell. It permeated the room like a vile perfume. I don’t know if I could describe to you the kinds of smells present at a murder scene. Let’s just say, it makes a bus station bathroom more desirable.
Maxwell swallowed hard. He was fighting to push back the bile and late dinner rising in his throat. He knew he shouldn’t have sprung for a steak and fries at 10:30 at night. Also, the chocolate shake and apple pie. But how was he to know he would have gotten a call so soon after he paid the check? How did the police find him at that greasy spoon diner so quickly?
I guess he was getting too predictable. That’s not good, for a detective.
A small sad dwarf sat at the end of the world. Everybody else’s time had come… why not his?
A small, sad dwarf sat on a stump, looking out on the rolling landscape in front of him. He didn’t remember his name or much of anything. A black army of clouds wafted up into the sky. In his mind, it looked like the souls of the world ascending into space.
He chewed a thin piece of straw. He didn’t know where the straw had come from. Little was left that could grow. The dwarf didn’t know why he was chewing the straw. Maybe, long ago, he liked to chew things. Or smoke thing. Or stick things in his mouth. He had forgotten.
The ground rumbled and the dwarf almost fell off the stump. That was good a reason as any to get up and move around. His legs were cramping something fierce and he assumed there wasn’t much use staring and the charred, desolate hills. Getting up, he reached up to the sky, craning his neck.
He let out a groan, it echoed, hanging in the air.
The most personal stories can be the most powerful
One of the most challenging questions aspiring writers have is where to look for ideas.
Well, we’ve spent plenty of time over the last few weeks exploring that question. And why, it can easily be solved.
Ideas are everywhere. And the more you think about storytelling, the more you will be bursting with ideas. When you implement a few practical tools for harvesting ideas, you will never run out of ideas for stories.
That’s, honestly, the easy part. The hard part? Crafting a story that is unique, sincere, and will resonate with a reader.
Last week, I detailed how real-life events can be jumping-off points for stories. The fact is, some of the most popular movies, books, and series were based on real life. It gives your work a kind of credibility (even if you don’t put in the line “Based on a true story”) and give a story a foundation from which you can experiment.
But how can you make a story more authentic? In an age when so many people are producing content—most of which is shallow and clickbaity—how can your stories feel real and meaningful? How can you make sure your story is going to connect with a stranger, to the point where they want to care about it?
The biggest hurdle I see from newbie writers is that their idea for a story just isn’t original. “But it’s been done before!” is their common refrain. My friend, yes, it’s been done before. But not by you. If you want to write and finish a story others will hopefully enjoy, you have to let go of that fear.
Because, honestly, it’s just an excuse not to take the plunge.
Once you get over that, you have an entire world to explore for ideas. Even then, it might be hard.
Let’s start with what we know best: what’s really happening around us.