Day 26 of 84 Days of 84 Ribbons: Story Secret
Authors begin their storytelling with some familiar point of reference. In 84 Ribbons I started with a young dancer (me), in my hometown (Bremerton, WA), in the late 1950s (a few years prior to my years dancing). From there I let my imagination wander: What if I’d become a professional dancer? What would an audition feel like? What might happen to me that I could embellish? What would I not want to happen to me that would make the story interesting for others?
Since I use a web to organize my thoughts, the first paper became a tangle of ideas. It grew to several pages as I began thinking, researching and writing out situations and problems while settling on details that interested me. And, after I wrote the first one hundred pages that I threw away, I settled down to creating the imaginary dance company that Marta joins, building her friends and situations of conflict, etc. Many of my ideas grew from comments or off-hand remarks made by members of my critique groups. It would be fun to have tried to watch that idea or comment spin itself into my story, but each tidbit grew and morphed so fast that I couldn’t create the trail each idea followed.
The hard part of writing a story when you like a character is putting them in harms way. I sat at the computer, forcing the story to move Marta into difficulties, making her fragile when I wanted her strong, letting her stumble and fall when I wanted her to soar. I knew it had to be done, so I let her experience life’s pitfalls. In the process, I discovered her tenacity. Marta wouldn’t let life shove her around; she pushed back and revealed her abilities to me and made me proud. Hopefully you felt her grow and change in 84 Ribbons. (I’m curious to know where you saw her growth in the story.)