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Field Notes

Field Notes

Exercises and examples that demonstrate the practical and innovative application of the principles contained in the book.

Noontime in the Garden of Characters

When you get the idea for a story, characters may come calling in droves, begging to be let in and put to work. The question is: How do you identify which one is the main character—and who is her supporting staff? Finding and Supporting Your Main Character It's not uncommon for writers to wonder how to identify the main character in a story and...

Finding Stories in Lyrics [Awareness]

Song lyrics vary in the ease with which they can be used to generate stories. Some convey a pre-packaged tale; others contain mere kernels of stories, typically nestled inside an outer shell of human emotion. On a Clear Day You Can See Forever; Music by Burton Lane, Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner, Sung by Barbra Streisand Extracting Stories from a...

Finding Stories in Photos [Prayerful Mourning]

The principles in Discovering the Soul of Your Story can be used to generate stories from photographs—such as this one of a woman engaged in mournful prayer. Gleaning Treasures from a Picture In the photograph above, a woman kneels and prays next to a funerary urn, presumably containing the ashes of someone she cared for. As Chapter 5 of...

A Tale of Two Thomases

When looking for clues about what makes a story work, it can be very instructive to compare and contrast two versions of a given story—especially if they occupy the same medium, like literature or film. Learning Lessons by Comparing Stories Sometimes, the best way to learn about stories and what makes them tick is to examine side-by-side two (or...

Finding Stories in Aphorisms [Duty]

Aphorisms are especially well-suited to generating story ideas, because they often contain recommended approaches or courses of action that serve as kernels for story themes. Here, we look at an aphorism that addresses the idea of duty. To Whom Much Is Given The following aphorism is attributed to the 19th-century Swiss philosopher and poet...

Finding Stories in Idioms [Rules]

Aphorisms are well-suited to generating story ideas, because they often contain recommended approaches or courses of action that serve as kernels for story themes. Here, we examine two from the domain of card games. Gleaning Issues from Card Games? Idioms can serve as rich sources of story ideas, because they often contain at their core a quality...

Finding Stories in Aphorisms [Action]

Aphorisms are especially well-suited to generating story ideas, because they often contain recommended approaches or courses of action that serve as kernels for story themes. Here we examine one about action, from U.S. general Omar Bradley. Acting vs. Waiting to Act The following aphorism is attributed to Gen. Omar Bradley, a five-star U.S....

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