By Triyasha De
‘The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.’
~ Jane Austen
‘Maybe “okay” will be our “always”.’
~ John Green
‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.’
~ Charles Dickens
Some stories stick with you.
I struggled for quite a while to find my story: from pirates and shipwrecks to cute romance, but I never went beyond the first few chapters. I thought I just didn’t have the grit, and I was not resilient or tenacious enough. Or simply, maybe I was not meant to be a writer.
For new writers, the idea of finishing a book can be daunting, especially when they seem to be struggling with it. As someone with extremely emboldening family and friends who do not waste any opportunity to read my work, I constantly receive writing advice from all around me in bits and pieces. But I only stuck to my story till the end when I stumbled upon a specific book.
In Lisa Cron’s book, Story Genius, she says a story is designed to answer one overarching question.
‘Will Elizabeth and Darcy ever be able to look past their preconceived judgment over each other and see the potential in their underlying blossoming love?’
That is the meaning of your story. It is what makes the story stick to your readers, keeps them turning the pages one after another and makes them remember it for a long time.
But how do you make your story stick to you? How do you finish it?
Donna Tartt was in college when she started writing The Secret History, and years later, she missed university life, the friendly, warm environment.
‘When I left, I wanted to be back at school so bad. Writing The Secret History was a way of getting back to that,’ writes Donna Tartt.
You know the meaning of your story. Now make it personal. Think about your life; what changed you? What moved you?
It could be small, seemingly insignificant everyday matters that no one talks about.
William Wordsworth was wandering in a forest with his daughter Dorothy when they came across a long belt of daffodils. This inspired one of his most famous works, Daffodils.
Or it could be life-shattering epiphanies that only you can talk about.
John Green was inspired to write the book, The Fault In Our Stars, after working as a student chaplain in a children’s hospital, and it is dedicated to his friend Esther Earl, who died of cancer at age 16.
Don’t be afraid to take inspiration from other writers. Did their story move you? Change you? Make you question things?
Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet was inspired by the poem The Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet by Arthur Brook. The Frozen Deep, a play written by Wilkie Collins, was the inspiration for A Tale of Two Cities. Dickens acted in the play once and portrayed the character of Richard Wardour.
Don’t be afraid to take inspiration from your own experiences because that’s where the best ideas come from. No one can tell it like you can. It doesn’t necessarily have to be exactly ‘what happened’: it could be, ‘how you felt’. Feeling lost? Write about it. Feeling empty? Write about it. These are rather vague emotions and can stem from many different experiences. You don’t necessarily have to write about your own.
Everyone has a story they were meant to tell.
About the Author
Triyasha De is a school-going teenager who is passionate about articulating everything. As an Indian, English is not her native language, but for some reason, it is the language that has held her love and attention the most. Even as a very young child, she can remember coming up with wacko stories and chaotically jotting them down on a paper, writing poetry even when it made no sense. For as long as she can remember, she has wanted to be a writer.