This entry is part 1 of 13 in the series Story Genius Method - Pillar


Aside form the fact that this post has a crazy long title, and that I’m on my second (or third?) cup of coffee, I was struck with an idea: what if I wrote the next TPC story live? All of you guys (presumably) like reading stories, so why not show you what kind of suffering joy I experience in crafting one?

DOING LAUNDRY, in my opinion, was a story that really got out of hand. Originally, I had outlined it out to start and finish with four (yes, 4) posts. So what happened? Why did it span 17 posts and amount to more than 11,000 words?

I think it’s because

while Eli Walters (my protagonist) was a fairly developed character (for a short story) before the story began, I don’t think the story developed him much further. He sort of ‘jumps’ from a guy that cares about making enough to justify cashing out, to a guy that cashes out for something better. His change sort of happens at gun-point. I mean, sure the guy feels a lot (I think I did well at his internal voice), but he doesn’t channel those emotions into personal change. The result is that the story happens around him, and not to him. It’s like standing in a thunderstorm but not getting wet until you’ve been out there for 20 minutes. So, I give myself a ‘C minus’ for character development.

Intro to The Story Genius Method

I wasn’t really thinking about any of this until I started reading a book recommended to me by a writer friend. The book is STORY GENIUS by Lisa Cron. Her book (so far) is fantastic, and it’s probably the reason why my parenthetical asides have gone up ten-fold in this post: she’s reminded me of how much I love them 🙂

Anyways, her book talks about how a lot of writers focus heavily on the plot (guilty) to the point that they lose contact to the ‘third rail’ of their character’s internal struggle (guilty again). Since all of the short stories I write on Third Person Creative are meant to give me an outlet to practice storytelling anyways, I thought ‘heck, why not give Lisa’s process a shot?’

So here we go…

Her first bullet is called “That first pinprick” and she instructs her readers (that’s me) to “write about the instant the idea that you’re working with…first grabbed you.” Remember that time I posted a poll on Facebook asking which genre you’d like to see me write next? Children’s lit and magical realism tied. This got me thinking how can I tie those two together? I had just finished reading HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS so the deathly hallows were still swimming around in my brain. But what if the items were different? What if they were weapons instead of seemingly innocuous accessories? But instead of three brothers, what if it was just one boy?

I was mulling this over in my head when I was passing by an old Buddhist landmark with some friends (far right in the image above). “See that pillar?” One tells me. “The legend is that it was created from an arrow shot from…” and I checked out as my mind raced…
what if my weapon was a bow and arrow that shot arrows that turned into PILLARS and it was given to a small boy!?

What problems could he solve? And, now more importantly, what personal changes will he need to make to solve them?

So now I have the ‘first pinprick’ of an idea. I’ll talk about the next steps Lisa walks me through in the next several posts.

In the meantime, what did you guys think of DOING LAUNDRY? Did you see anything I did well that you’d like for me to carry into the next story? Did you see anything else I need to work on? What do you think of the new format? Answer as many of these as you’d like in the comments!

Series NavigationStory Quest with STORY GENIUS – Part II >>