The Sphere of Story
The process of story creation can be explained as a sphere of creation. It is a process where ideas form and are passed from imagination to hand and back again with relentless attention until the story is complete. Then we pass it along to the reader with the hope we’ve entertained them for a short time.
When we begin writing, our story sphere begins like a ball of clay. It’s lumpy and malformed. Sometimes, it doesn’t even look round. Often it starts out egg-shaped or conical more than spherical. Small protrusions may develop with the slight sculpturing movement of just a few fingers. These may round out into something that blends with the rest of the story, or they may fall away entirely. It is realistic to understand that not everything that is created is used well at first glance. If small pieces fall away, we allow them to rest on the floor next to the turntable. But we never abandon them. Instead, we pick them up from time to time, tucking them away in a small box for later use. Perhaps they will fit better into the next story sphere we create. One never knows how small pieces of one sculpture may enhance another.
After completely forming our sphere of story, we narrow its profile and scoop out the stagnant middle. This makes it travel more easily from one plot twist to the next. As with a chase wheel, we poke at it, prod at it, and keep nudging it along on its path toward wonderment. We keep the momentum going, else it will crash and fall flat. As everyone knows, it’s quite tricky to get a wheel spinning again once it’s gone flat. However, momentum doesn’t always equate to speed. Sometimes it just means moving the story onward with tenacity. We are careful to pace ourselves so as not to tire too quickly or slag along without interest. We may craft our story slower up hills, faster down hills, and we rest, taking the pace more gently in between. Once we find our rhythm, we relax into the journey, flowing more easily with the uneven patches of the path. We rejoice in the distance we’ve come, and with good reason. It’s not a simple thing, keeping a story sphere moving forward. It requires a strength many don’t realize they have until The End stares back at them from a stack of paper. After measuring out the distance in words, lines, paragraphs, and pages, we celebrate a bit, resting with our achievements under the shade of respite provided by a first draft well written.
When we feel confident in the journey we’ve traveled and the comfortable completion of our story sphere, we hand it off to editors, proofreaders, and beta readers. The courage required to do this is unrivaled by even the greatest of superheroes. These kind-hearted souls, our mentors of modification, hold our story gently, ascribing the proper reverence to an endeavor crafted with equal parts love and imagination. Then, as they would a Magic 8 Ball, they ask questions, timidly at first, turning our story over in their hands… “What if?” The answer returns, “Very doubtful.” They make notes in the margins. Then, with more confidence this time, they ask, “Can this be believed?” The answer returns, “You may rely on it.” A sigh of relief is released into the air. It was a breath you didn’t realize you were holding. More notes, more questions, like riding a teeter-totter of story maturity, this tribe of dedicated story souls examines the work for areas of improvement and excellence with equal consideration. The process lingers as we patiently wait, trusting the sandpaper and polish of literary opinions. Finally, the last question is asked, “Will this end well?” The answer returns, “Don’t count on it.” Scribbles appear in underlined crimson or capitalized cobalt across our pages, requiring us to dig deeper, uncover more, share secrets without giving away too much. We retreat to our desk, taking this valuable insight with us. We concentrate on the refinement, repeating the steps of sculpture, pacing, and momentum until our pages are returned free from questions, scribbles, and requests for more enhancement.
At last, when our story sphere meets the expectations of quality, we enclose it delicately, like a snow globe, with a cover of protection, and send it to rest on the shelves of the world’s readers. Each, in turn, cradles it gently in their hands, turning it this way and that, watching how each flake of detail lands on the scenes inside. Each reader discovers a new perspective of the story, as they enjoy our gift from a fresh angle. Some are captivated with character, some with the sequence of plot. Others find themselves mesmerized by the dance of pacing or the music of dialogue that wraps around the story sphere, binding it together until the very end. When at last, the gentle snowflakes of the story have settled upon the foundation of the last scene, each reader embraces a message distinctive to them. Each reader’s gentle perspective of life, love, and imagination meld with what the writer provides to create art unique to their experience. This is as it should be, for art is preciously different for each admirer.
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