Surrounded with Interesting Stories
Are you surrounded with fascinating stories from your family or friends? Or maybe the stories come from the magazines and books that you read? Reading or taking in the information is a key part of your own development and growth as a writer.
As an example of what I'm talking about I encourage you to read Jill Lepore's article in the October 20th issue of The New Yorker called Bound for Glory, Writing campaign lives. I love the vivid way Lepore captured some of the essence of historical presidential campaigns. It is the detail of the storytelling that captures the attention in this article and makes it flow and move in my view. The effort takes practice and may appear easy but takes a conscious effort on the part of the writer.
The beginnings of storytelling start with taking in good stories or reading. As an agent or an editor, I'm always surprised when I ask a writer a few questions about what type of material they read--and learn it is the opposite of what they want to write and publish. When I find these situations, the writer has thrown themselves into a complete disconnect. If you want to write romance (the largest genre of fiction), then you need to be reading romance. If you are a thriller writer, make sure you are reading thrillers. If you want to write American history, then spend time reading American history.
The experience will build something intangible yet important into your writing life. When people learn about my own writing, they are surprised at the number of biographies and co-authored books that I've written for others. It stems back in my mind to those days as a young reader curled up on a couch listening to the rainfall outside the window. I was reading another biography on a historical figure. I loved those books and continue to read a good biography from time to time. Those reading experiences have fed into my own adult writing. It will be true for your writing as well.