From Steering the Craft by the wonderful Ursula K. Le Guin:
“There is a limited number of plots (some say seven, some say twelve, some say thirty). There is no limit to the number of stories. Everybody in the world has their story, and every meeting of one with another begins another story. Somebody asked Willie Nelson where he got his songs, and he said, ‘The air’s full of melodies, you just reach out….’ The world’s full of stories, you just reach out.
“I say this in an attempt to unhook people from the idea that they have to make an elaborate plan of a tight plot before they’re allowed to write a story. If that’s the way you like to write, write that way, of course. But if it isn’t, if you aren’t a planner or a plotter, don’t worry. The world’s full of stories…. All you need may be a character or two, or a conversation, or a situation, or a place, and you’ll find the story there. You think about it, you work it out at least partly before you start writing, so that you know in a general way where you’re going, but the rest works itself out in the telling. I like my image of ‘steering the craft,’ but in fact the story boat is a magic one. It knows its course. The job of the person at the helm is to help it find its own way to wherever it’s going.”
I just love Le Guin’s relaxed approach to writing, don’t you?
Stories are everywhere, all around us, just waiting for us:
Elaborating plotting isn’t essential—just a few characters, a place, or a situation.
Once you start writing, the story “works itself out in the telling.”
As you keep on writing, you’ll find your story knows its way—your job is to help it along.
What a simple strategy—and how encouraging—as we all write on!
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