Not all stories are meant to be stories.
Some can just be a fact, a fun fact, a fact of the day. And as a matter of fact, not all stories are meant to have a moral or a clever catchy ending. My professor at the Master’s used to say that, when writing a story, the subject can be whatever – like your grandma cooking spaghetti – as long as you can make that subject a something that people can universally feel.
Also, to bear in mind: never start with the title! A story (or a fact) is like a sugar container: you need to turn it upside down to get sweetness out of it. Simply put, always start from the end! If you know where you’re aiming, you can better develop a story and be consistent with what you’re willing to share. It’ll be easier then to assign a nice and coherent title to that article.
“How do you write stories?”
Can’t say. I’m not good at writing.
“Whatever. Just say something and don’t screw this up.”
Ok, fine. How do I do…? Usually standing in the tube while struggling to find a good spot to type on my iPad. Oh sorry, maybe the question was different. You mean, is there a style that I follow?
Ehm…do you understand what I write? Well, If you do, that is my style.
“What’s the first step of writing?”
For me, analysis. Complex scientific experiments are conducted on people and objects everyday. Then I measure results and extract accurate stats from…
Nah!… I look around. I look at the details that surround me: I separate the morning sleepy expressions from the actual feelings, isolate them and try to interpret. (I have nothing else to do while on the tube, thus this is good entertainment.)
Speaking of tips for writing – and assuming that I’m entitled to give any – get some more hereafter.
Please don’t get too emotional! Of course you need to feel something while writing – you don’t want a set of cold words mechanically assembled together, do you?! And if you don’t feel them in the first place, others won’t either. Just be smart when you do! Don’t get too sentimentally attached to your articles and don’t only be tragic or melodramatic. Go wider!
A universal feeling is not hard to find. Let’s be banal: love, sadness, pride, fear, or the Incubus playing Drive in my earphones in this moment. The description just follows straight, as long as it’s clear and, above all, sincere. Don’t be too articulate: don’t use words and hermetic sentences that only specific elites of people can decode and understand. It’s useless. Make it easy!
A feeling must be a part of a bigger thing, a bigger happening, a bigger situation. For everyone. As big as it might be, go capture that something, that detail that not everybody will notice: that will be your gimmick. Then stop the description and detour the story with a groundbreaking plot twist! Try to get at least one to give the story an unexpected direction, a direction that will impress the reader. That new direction will be your resolution: the moment when you let people empathize. A process that I like to call Personification.
So, along with what previously said, how would you describe your love for something or somebody? Start searching for the most adjacent words/adjectives to love. Found some? Swell! Now go dig in your personal love experiences and come up with a good match. Do they collide or align? Either way, you’ll have an interesting match for the story.
“Ok Jim, so give an example.”
“Yeah, here you’re acting like some kind of writer with your tips and tricks. So what?”
Bu..but I told you I’m not good at writing.
“And what’s your point then? Do you feel satisfied playing the intellectual? Are you freaking out or what, man? Show some balls!”
Ok, ok, ok, chill out…
Let’s give this a try then. How would I do…?
For instance, I love writing. I really do. It’s the only way for me to express all the things that I couldn’t say face to face, all the inner thoughts, all the secrets that I have carefully been hiding. Not kidding, it’s real love.
Now how would I describe love.
Love. Adjacent words (for me): magnetic, spell, coincidence, addiction, mind, gravity, shocking, instinct, safeguarding, fearing, forgive, survive.
How do I match them.
She. The most beautiful and magnetic creature I’ve ever seen. Her perfume, her scent, her body, her skin. Me enchanted by an inflammable spell; my fingers designing her shapes. We were there and–no! the world didn’t stop but started spinning faster. The terrestrial axis would incline to make that wonderful coincidence happen. We had just run out of Ferrero Rochers when the dawn illuminated that room. The infinite in a so small range of space. The eternity in a so small range of time. Addiction: craving for those lips. Before, during, after. Her mind: that complicated and escape-less Alice-in-Wonderland’s maze. That unbeatable Rubik’s cube with no matching colours.
A sense of heavy gravity, that lightly pushes upwards.
Staring at her – walking, moving, talking – was a damn shocking experience. I would have never lost her tracks: I would follow that sugary big-eyed puppet in all her movements and gestures.
The fact is though, that nobody wants to suffer, nor would I. And it’s known that after the most serious illnesses, heartbreaks are the most painful diseases.
Although I can’t love.
One day, long before I met her, my feelings were transformed into a rational instinct. My heart still pumped blood but my veins were obstructed by all the let-downs and cheating that my dearest and beloved people had reserved for me. And the more you stay away from relationships, the more inert you become. You whither. And then it’s only about safeguarding yourself. Nothing else exists but an unstable personality that only alcohol can balance.
At some point you are alone and…and – hell I never thought I’d say this – but when you ask questions to yourself, when you make it look like an interview, when you fake everything as you’d only want some love from the ones that turned on you…it means you’re fucking lonely!… And loneliness fucking kills!
All stands up though: until you start fearing, until you realise that you don’t want to grow up. And not for yourself no, but for the only 2 people you care about–you’re scared they would grow old.
Fear? Step up, take a cold shower and be a man: you need to forgive yourself! You understand me?! FORGIVE YOURSELF YOU STUPID IDIOT!
Look at me, shit, LOOK AT ME: will you die or survive for her? ANSWER!…
See, despite the descriptive sentences above, this is not to be called a story. This is just a fact, a detail, a something that happened one day.
And as a matter of fact, it didn’t last. A story would have its time, its places, its characters, its development. This one instead is just a random mix of everything. It doesn’t have a moral and there’s no clever catchy ending.
It’s a fact: as not all stories are meant to be stories.
I really love writing. And honestly…oh, fuck it!…I have loved that girl.
“And why the hell didn’t you tell her?”
I told you, I’m not good at saying things face to face.
“So, why didn’t you write it down?”
…I did screw up: I’m not good at writing.