I STOLE the MONEY.
Five bucks here. Ten there. Twenty was rare.
She never seemed to notice – so I kept making withdrawals.
Until one day, she panicked. She swore she had more cash in her wallet, and she needed it.
So she asked if one of us took it, but I kept my mouth shut.
Because I didn’t want my mother to know I was a rotten, little thief.
THEFT and GRACE
In my late teens, I told mother that I was the cash bandit. She thought it was another.
I confessed more, too – except after I finished, she didn’t show anger or offer any signs of judgment.
Instead, she gave me her ear, let me make peace with my thievery, and she continued to be the loving one titled, “Mother.”
WICKED but TRUE
I’m not the only one who needs to make peace with their thievery – because whether you’re aware or not, you’ve stolen from others.
Small scene here. Big theme there. Thievery everywhere.
Yes, many elements of your story are unoriginal – because many elements were taken from stories you’ve consumed and experienced – on and off the page – consciously and subconsciously.
Does that sting?
Either way, I contend it’s the lucid truth because countless stories have already been told. The odds seem to suggest this probability when one observes the realms of storytelling.
VIRTUE in CANDOR
Even with Grand Theft Author being charged, your story will be special and one-of-a-kind – assuming you honor your uniqueness.
Ponder this: Which of the following elements linger strongest after someone absorbs a special story?
The setting and locations?
The plot twists and turns?
The cast of characters?
The author’s writing voice?
The reader’s transformation?
Call me partial, but out of everything suggested above, I’d assign characters, writing voice, and reader transformation as the aspects with strongest odds of lingering in the minds of readers.
I suddenly find my analysis a bit comical because so much of my blog has been about story structure and how its pieces fit.
Alas, there is always more to the story.
Characters, writing voice, and reader transformation are obviously within your scope of control – and you don’t have to steal or confess anything to deliver these aspects in a special story – so let’s assess each of these elements:
These are reflections of oneself. (Yes, I’m playing Dr. Dave here.)
Because all of your characters say something about you – because your characters serve as expressions of the personalities dwelling within your psyche.
So your characters should speak to the varying ways you view the world around you.
Except too many storytellers cage the personas roaming their minds. This improper restraint results in stick figures of poorly sculted words.
Yet these storytellers are not unique here – because my characters have been accused of being shallow storytelling vessels.
Except the opposite end of the spectrum can be worse – because it’s there that exists the overproduction of characters – also known as caricatures.
Caricature: A picture, description, or imitation of a person or thing in which certain striking characteristics are exaggerated in order to create a comic or grotesque effect.
One proven way to jumpstart special characters is to understand what they want more than anything else.
Everyone operates within the boundaries of their desires.
So do you.
So you must understand your characters’ deepest desires – because this knowledge will help you drive their decisions – which will in turn help their choices resonate with your readers.
Basically, knowing your characters’ deepest desire(s) will help you manifest believable-make-believe characters.
Practice doesn’t always make perfect, but practice always improves potential.
Straight up, you’ve got a writing voice today that will change, improve, and evolve through practice – but today – you must wield whatever writing voice you possess – and avoid trying to sound like someone else from tomorrow or yesterday.
The people in your life connect with you because of your special voice of today, so why try and sound like something else when speaking to the page?
Simply put, practice your potential everyday knowing that your voice is already capable of creating special connections with an audience.
If you find yourself second guessing your writing voice during a storytelling session, grab a note pad, sticky note, or piece of paper and write simple words to ground yourself.
Maybe it’s something like, “I am a lucid storyteller and my voice resonates today.”
Or maybe it’s “My voice is special and becoming more unique with every word transcribed.”
Or maybe it’s another variation of this simple message that connects with you.
But take that written message and hang, post, or drape it within view.
Glance at it each time you stop writing with insecurity or start to get sidetracked with doubt.
Remember that everyone edits and rewrites – because first drafts are not final drafts.
And final drafts do not become perfect drafts – but they can become special drafts.
So never again forsake the special voice you’re imprinting on the page. 🙂
Characters must change and evolve throughout a special story.
And while readers expect characters to transform, they also hope to experience personal transformation through these characters.
Many of my favorite stories have compelled me to question myself and the world around me.
So let’s recognize that it’s okay for you to challenge or attempt to transform the minds of your audience.
I have seen many storytellers offer an opposite outlook on this. We disagree, and of course, that’s okay.
Because I know entertainment must always remain a special feature when trying to change the world.
The simplest way to deliver reader transformation is through your protagonist.
So whatever potential transformation or special message you want to convey to your reader should typically be delivered through this lead character.
Jumpstart transformation with these 5 Steps:
Step 1: Ask yourself how you want your readers to feel at the beginning of your special story. Or ask yourself what you want them to focus on at the story’s beginning.
i.e. Imprisoned? Alone? Stagnant? Uncertain? Etc?
Step 2: Ask how you want your readers to feel at “The End” of your special story. Or ask yourself what you want readers to focus on at the story’s ending.
i.e. Free. United. Vibrant. Experienced. Etc.
Step 3: Create a beginning scene that makes your protagonist feel the way you want your readers to feel in the story’s beginning. Or create a beginning scene with a strong outlook toward a theme – positioned from the way readers may view it now.
i.e. In a beginning scene, position your protagonist to battle exterior conflict which mirrors their inner demons.
Step 4: Create an ending scene that makes your protagonist feel the way you want your readers to feel in the story’s ending. Or create an ending scene with an evolved outlook toward a theme – now positioned from the way you want readers to consider viewing it – different than how the theme was positioned in the beginning.
i.e. In an ending scene, fulfill your protagonist’s inner growth and showcase their emotional evolution through exterior heroics and action.
Step 5: Go back and insert additional scenes into the middle of the story, and show a gradual evolution of change from beginning to ending.
i.e. In a middle scene, place your protagonist in a position that disproves the original feeling or theme.
When change and transformation are thoughtfully presented, a story can become special by offering readers new possibilities and paths of growth.
So remember it’s okay to share a message of transformation inside your story – because readers want and need it.
Storytellers just need to deliver it in an entertaining format.
BALANCE theft with ORIGINALS
There’s nothing to do if someone steals elements from another’s story.
Heck, those elements were likely borrowed from someone else anyway, consciously or subconsciously.
So by all means, please look at your favorite stories and repurpose pieces of their plotline, setting, and more to create your story.
Just make sure the most special elements such as characters, writing voice, and reader transformation scream signs of your unique creativity.
Because it’s this trinity of originality that lingers strongest beyond “The End.”