Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Stories that Haunt You

I'm teaching a class on plot in the MFA creative writing program at Hamline and I asked my students—after having them bring in their favorite picture book and then pick their favorite Grimms fairy tale—to write a short essay on what stories they carry with them—both from their own lives and from books. Then I asked them to write about what stories they want or need to tell and how this all relates.

We are close to Halloween and the sense of stories haunting us I think is worth exploring.

I was so inspired by what they wrote that I think I will try to write such an essay myself. You might too. Make a list of the stories that you come back to again and again. A few for me are: Daniel Martin by John Fowles, Leaving Cheyenne by Larry McMurtry, The Spiral Staircase by Karen Armstrong, Anna Karenina by Tolstoy.

Make a list, add to it, let it brew. Think about what these stories are about. Where is the energy in them. You will learn more about yourself and your writing.

Sit down on the floor among your own personal library. Pull books off the shelf and absorb what they have to tell you about your own work.

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