Once Upon a Time: the power of story

27 Jul

There are many places where a story comes from. It can evolve from mystery, authority, poetry, serendipity, or tenacity. The story comes from your own experiences and as a writer, you need to use these experiences to infuse your characters. Try and recall the first time you went to the beach – how did it smell and feel? Was it a windy day, or a hot day? What did you do?

Even as illustrators, these experiences and memories help recapture the picture and allow us to draw from the heart. Can you recall what expressions and actions were involved in this first trip to the beach? Was it a bright day or a dull, cloudy day? All these will effect how the illustration will look. Remember, an illustration is the story that runs parallel to the words.

Be alert! Start paying attention to what is around you.

Start paying attention to what is going on around you, a story could be lurking within. Look into history, watch/read the news, even listen and observe what is happening while you are sitting in a cafe sipping your latte. Listening to conversations is a great way to get a feel for dialogue – just make sure you do this with subtlety. Research is 10% of the story and the other 90% is your imagination.

There are so many different opinions about the writing process and often they conflict with one another. So in the madness of the Mad Hatter and White Rabbit, we say, DO what you need to do, and don’t allow all the rules to bog you down. Just write yourself into your words and into your characters, and write the entire story without going back over it and without worrying about length. With this method you will be able to get that story idea out on the page and you will know where you are going.

Once you have your story down you can start adding layers and revising. Think of yourself as a sculptor, adding layers and layers of clay, building up the art through backstory, feelings, opinions and details.

So lock up that editor within and JUST GET YOUR STORY OUT!

“We shouldn’t worry about the dos and don’ts. Thou shat not will be forgotten, but once upon a time is always remembered.” -Philip Pullman

Eat Me Drink Me:


Grab a newspaper and/or magazine. Clip words and random phrases and see which one jumps out at you and then just write for 20 minutes.


Do the same as above. Now illustrate the scene you have randomly created.


One response to “Once Upon a Time: the power of story

  1. Lisa

    July 28, 2010 at 5:42 am

    Every Story is a Love Story – Elton John & Tim Rice
    Every story, tale or memoir
    Every saga or romance
    Whether true or fabricated
    Whether planned or happenstance

    Whether sweeping through the ages
    Casting centuries aside
    Or a hurried brief recital
    Just a thirty-minute ride

    Whether bright or melancholy
    Rough and ready, finely spun
    Whether with a thousand players
    Or a lonely cast of one

    Every story, new or ancient
    Bagatelle or work of art
    All are tales of human failing
    All are tales of love at heart…


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