Every story is a lake, right?

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Let’s start with basics

It is human to love stories and tales about events happening next to us or far away, real or fantastic. Firstly, a story drawn by two big hairy hands in a cave evolved as the immense caves of literary genres, without losing its force. No matter what is the fabula or the plot behind a story, at the beginning, it’s just a blank sheet.

Welcome to the lake

A lake in Finland, picture by Daniele Frau

Imagine now this blank sheet as a lake, on which the author blows. The waves, the events of the story, will ripple the surface of the water, but on the lake bed, you’ll be able to find the real meaning of the story. For instance, in some cases on those “easy” genres, all you need to do is lay down on your small boat and let the author move it for you. In one way or another, we will finish on the shore of the lake, happy to have spent a few relaxed hours.

Let’s dive inside!

We won’t know what is hidden in the lake’s depths, but maybe that was exactly what we were searching for. Even in those “easy” stories, we can discover something more than we initially thought. We’re still on a lake, and it’s always possible to lose control of the oars and finish inside the water, ready to discover the world under the surface.

A simple scheme?

You can be just a good swimmer or a diver, but you’ll find some characteristics in common between stories in either case. As the element of a lake are water, wind, waves, and sometimes trees and mountains, as well the story has a starting point, followed by a series of actions that develop until they reach a resolution (positive or negative).

It seems a dull scheme the one I presented to you, but we have something ready to help develop the story (and therefore attract our attention). I introduce you to someone you must already know: the Character. As John Gardner wrote on his writing manual, The art of fiction:

No fiction can have a real interest if the central character is not an agent struggling for his or her own goals but a victim, subject to the will of others.

The writer has to draw the lake, the beautiful trees reflected on its surface (yes, yes, really poetic), but then he needs to put into that lake, on the surface or in the depths, some character that we will follow blindly.

It continues with… Robin Hood!

Read more about writing and reading here , and about our stories Souls Alive and Go back to the future.


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