Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Guest Blog by Sheryl Gwyther - Blog Tour for Sheryl's New Children's Book Princess Clown

EXTRACTING THE STORY – not as painful as teeth
by Sheryl Gwyther

It’s funny how stories come to be. Princess Clown began with two words – princess and clown (naturally), but they weren’t just any old words. To me, they jangled and bangle-d and clashed together. They did not match.

In other words, they would do the job of creating TENSION and CONFLICT – just what a s
tory needs.

Of course, it’s fine to have an idea for a story but you have to take it further!

I love what master-storyteller Stephen King says about that elusive component to
writing “extracting the story”.

He likens the stories and the ideas upon which they are founded to “fossils” and writers t
o “archaeologists” (correct term should be “palaeontologists” if we’re talking about fossils, but let’s not quibble over this often confused term).

“Our job as writers is to extract the story – using everything from jackhammer to toothbrush – to reach its pristine form.” Stephen King.

This terminology of locating and extracting ancient fossil treasures in the earth struck a chord with me because I worked on a fossil dig in Western Queensland while researching my junior fiction, Secrets of Eromanga.

That process is exactly what finding your story is like. You must sense whether it is time to get down and dirty with the jackhammer and forget about the damage inflicted.

For me, this is the dreaded, mental agony of the first-draft stage.

The reward comes with the toothbrush, paintbrush and dental pick – rewriting stage – just like on a fossil dig when the tiniest, most fragile imprint of an ancient pine cone waits to see the light of day.
You tease it with the dental tool, you coax it with your toothbrush and you brush away the layers until it is exposed in its pristine form. Ahhhh!

Looking for plant fossils, Elliot Dinosaur Dig, Winton

Well, almost pristine. There is always room for improvement in writing – which is why I appreciate my writing friends. They are the ones I trust to read my writing drafts and be honest in their opinion; who will pick up inconsistencies or notice when a bit of “telling not showing” creeps in. They share the frustrations, the rejections, the successes of a writer’s life.

Then, there’s the joy of digging through history, researching …. but that is another story!

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Dee White said...

Thanks for a great post Robyn and Sheryl,

I like the idea of extracting the story.


Sheryl Gwyther said...

And thank you to Robyn for allowing me to visit her blog. Much appreciated, Robyn! :)

Sally Murphy said...

Great post, Sheryl, and I love your analogy of writing as a fossil dig.

Life's a poem said...

Just coming on tour with you now Sheryl. Yes the tension between the two concepts is great. Enjoyed the post Robyn and Sheryl, now to chase- or extract the other blogs...