What A Family Of Bears In A Car Taught Me About Storytelling


The other day my mom reminded me of the first story I ever wrote. It was about a family of bears who drove around in a car.

I wrote it in a hardcover A5 exercise book, with illustrations in crude crayon. I must have been about nine or 10 years old. I’m not sure where the bears went in the car or if there was any major plot to the story – but it was a start. The exercise book, like so much of my early scribblings, has been lost.

But the memory of that first story isn’t. Well, not completely. Did I write it to entertain myself or to impress my mother? Probably both. I can be sure that I enjoyed it – because I didn’t stop. I was hooked on making stuff up.

I was always making up stories in my head. I was a superhero running around in my swimming costume and towel. I was in my own world. Sometimes I wrote stories down. I wrote little pieces for the school yearbook in primary school and creative writing assignments. Some of them I remember, some of them I don’t. A few even won trophies. But I love all of them because they’re a part of my life and writing history.

If think back to the story of the bears in the car, it proves that storytelling is instinctive; it’s a natural skill for all of us. We’re born with it. We know it even as children. You have a character and you have them doing something. There’s character and plot right there. It’s as simple as that.

If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg.

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