The Hidden Layers of Stories

As both a reader and a writer, I’m always interested in what doesn’t make it into a story.

The fact is that, in order to give your story depth and realism, you need to know a lot more about your world, characters, and backstory than you could ever stuff in.

I mean, Tolkien made up entire languages for Middle Earth.

And I love when we get little glimpses into that process, because everyone works differently. I love learning what influenced people to write the story they did, what mythology or other media they referenced. I love knowing the evolution of characters and storylines.

And, perhaps logically, I like looking back through my own notes, to see where I started in comparison to where I ended up.

And I’m always surprised by what I’ve forgotten. Take, for example, this short story I have coming out in an anthology in August. I wrote the first draft in April and apparently I’ve already spaced on the whole experience, because I found my notes in a notebook last night.

There was a map, showing the main character’s journey, and I’d marked three spots on said map where the main characters runs into issues. And next to each spot I’d labeled what type of conflict it was–physical, mental, or emotional.

And until I found that map, I’d completely forgotten that I’d made a conscious decision to make sure each problem she encountered challenged something different to help with her character growth, even though this is not a story that I haven’t touched in years (in fact, I’m approving the copy edits on it today, so).

I just find the whole process of story creation utterly fascinating. Don’t you?

Any neat story process tidbits you know, Squiders? Anything interesting from your own stories, if you’re a writer?

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