The Art of Storytelling

August 18, 2020

I’ve had a personal goal of writing an original screenplay for a while now. Writing has been something I’ve always wanted to do but have struggled to put words on paper. Unfortunately, it’s not one of those practices that I can bend to my will (no matter how hard I try). I started reading a lot of books on storytelling and writing, but none of them resonated because they were all so formulaic. My mind doesn’t work like that. A good friend of mine, Tim, understood this and gifted me a book that changed my life, “Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir to the Craft”.

My friend Tim Paradise, Creative Director of Stoic Agency

I have to be honest, I am not the biggest Stephen King fan (because I am a scaredy cat) so I was really surprised when I resonated so strongly with his message. Stephen is what you would call an intuitive writer. He doesn’t follow a set template or process when he creates. Sometimes he is inspired by an event, a character, or a real life circumstance and then shapes the narrative around that. He took out some of the magic and mysticism around the process of writing. I often romanticized about getting struck with a divine lightning bolt of inspiration and a beautiful story would just pour out of me. Unfortunately, I am still waiting on this but what I did gain were some practical nuggets of wisdom. Below are a few of my favorite quotes from the master storyteller himself:

  • “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”
  • “Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”
  • “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There's no way around these two things that I'm aware of, no shortcut.”
  • “Let's get one thing clear right now, shall we? There is no Idea Dump, no Story Central, no Island of the Buried Bestsellers; good story ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky: two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun. Your job isn't to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up.”
  • “The most important things to remember about back story are that (a) everyone has a history and (b) most of it isn’t very interesting.”

If you are a nerd for story, I cannot recommend this book enough. It is funny, insightful, and super inspiring to read from one of the greatest storytellers.