09 November 2009

The Core of Stories

Every story is true.

You have to remember that.  No matter what happens in it, it's true.

I'm not talking about fact, or historical accuracy, or any of that.  I'm talking about truth.  Take Star Wars, for example.  True story.  Does that mean that in a galaxy far, far away, there was a domineering galactic empire, who controlled all of the star systems in the galaxy via a massive, planet-destroying space station?

No.  That's ridiculous.  But the story itself....

A small group of free-thinking individuals stands up in the face of insurmountable odds to fight for their own freedom and choices.  One man's search for a replacement for his lost family, and the legacy they have left behind.  A child's constant fight to be free of the chains his father has placed on him.

All of this is true.  It's something we live with every day.  It doesn't have to be on a grand scale; it could be the child who defies his parents' wishes to go to law school, and becomes an artist instead.  It could be a woman's demand that she be treated fairly in the workplace.  It could be an argument between spouses, over where they will be spending Christmas.  The scale doesn't matter.

What matters is that it's true.  It's real, and, when you peel away all of the flash and the exaggerated plots, there is a kernel of purity there that people can relate to, can understand.

It's the most important realisation you can come to as a writer, and it will elevate your stories to a new level.

Every story is true.

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