How Do You Come To Story?

How Do You Come To Story?


Stories come to us in the forms of poems, short stories, novels, movies, even in journalism and rhetoric– but these stories were not always written or visual.

They started around camp fires as spoken artefacts and these were passed on – and changed and shifted and re-invented with each telling.

If we think back to those camp fire narrators and storytellers, we will recognise that we still have the same need to communicate and share.

Where does story come from?

  1. We like to look back at the past. This is our way of saying to fireside listeners, “Things weren’t always this way.” In a way, it is about sharing history.
  2. We like to look to the future. This is our way of saying to fireside listeners, “Things won’t always be this way.” In a way, it is about sharing hope.
  3. And in between these two, between history and hope, we find story.

And how it evolves into a narrative

We want to shape that story, so we find a narrative that connect events, emotions, characters and conflicts, and we try to make sense of it – to make it coherent, gripping, enthralling. It’s our way to make people listen and pay attention – and we do it on the page.

The art of it all

There is an art to telling and writing stories and we have to work at it as writers – practice, practice, practice. But, if we understand how we come to story, it makes it easier. And how you, as a writer, come to story is your own inherited wisdom and unique voice.

Your history is different. Your hope is different. But both will influence what you write today.

Try this

Take some time this week to think about how you come to story: how you shape a narrative, how you connect images and ideas – maybe write it down as a poem.

‘We have memorised America,
how it was born and who we have been and where.
In ceremonies and silence we say the words,
telling the stories, singing the old songs.’
Miller Williams

 by Anthony Ehlers

If you enjoyed this post, read:

  1. Back To Basics: 3 Steps To Setting
  2. Back To Basics: 3 Steps To Character
  3. Back To Basics: 3 Steps To Plot

If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg or sign up for our online course.