Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tuesday's Inspiration - A story is... #MFRWauthor

"A story is experience translated into literary process." Dwight V. Swain.

Exactly what does this mean to a writer. To me, it means developing characters who are experiencing an event that's going to change their life. It also means finding the right words to translate this experience and make the story show what happens in a character's life. There are many kinds of stories, some are literary, some are genre specific. Some stories are long and some are short. I've done both.

When I began writing years ago, I wasn't sure whether I wanted to write long or short but I began writing short stories. I wrote a number of them and one of my favorites is about a nurse, an older woman who worked the night shift. She wasn't the kind of woman who was outgoing and her nature was for the solitary. A patient changed her life. This wasn't a happy ending story, or was it?

The patient was a dying man who for some reason was drawn to her. He asked her a question. "Why don't you smile?" Actually the seeds of this story were based on an incident in my life. As a young nurse I was scared when working with patients and experienced one of those days when nothing went right. After a series of accidents including spilling water from the pitcher used to fill wash basins for the patients all over my foot and the floor. A patient who had just lost his foot because of diabetics looked up and said, "Smile, just a small one."

So stories are born from small seeds and what I did when I wrote "Just A Small Smile" sprang from this incident but I made her an older woman who had never found love and how a dying man taught her about giving of herself to ease someone else's pain. I've tried to do this with all my stories, show how experience is translated into a story by choosing words and form, characters and setting, and all the other things that make a story sing.

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