Monday, January 20, 2014

Once Upon a Time


If your life were a book, how would it read? Who are the villains? Who are the heroes? Who are those interesting, quirky characters that every good book has? What about plot? What are the obstacles you have had to overcome? The small joys you have encountered along the way? How about the title? How would that read? How would the chapters be arranged? If the book were made into a movie, at what point could we get up and go for popcorn without missing any exciting parts?

Would your story be a movie worth watching? Would YOU pay to see it?

What about editing? Are there any parts you would like to rewrite? Heavily? Do those work with the rest of the story? Do they build character? Or are they just sort of there? Did they never fully develop quite as you expected they would? Are you glad about that? Or not? Is there anything you would like to add to your story? Are there any sections you would like to flesh out?

Once upon a time. Where would I find your story if I wandered my local bookstore? If I pulled it from the shelf, would I sit with it a bit? Order a latte, perhaps? Would I plunk down some change and take it home? Or would I leave it for the clerks to clear along with the napkins and dirty dishes? If I did take it home, would I quickly lose interest in other stories I had started? Would I lose sleep reading late into the night? Would I pass the book onto a friend with rave review?

Have you taken an active role in penning your tale? Or are you making use of the ghostwriter technique? Do you actively plot your chapters or just wing it, hoping for the best? Do you show up at the computer day after day, butt in chair, fingers to keys, or do you wander idly, just waiting for your muse to show? Do you KNOW your muse? Are you on speaking terms?

When the credits roll at the end of the movie, are you sitting on the edge of your seat already awaiting the sequel? Or are you arguing with management demanding your money back? Was it an afternoon well spent? Or two hours down the drain? Would you see it again? How many times? How would rank it? One of your top picks? Or have you seen better?

What are the scenes you remember? Which pop to the front when you look back at your life? Which do you replay over and over? Do you replay them because they were great? Or because they totally sucked? Of all the scenes, which one is your favorite? Which characters do you like? Which do you not? If you could choose an alternate ending, would you? Why?

Does your story have everything a good story should have? Is there a conflict, a climax, a back-story that kicks absolute ass? Does the girl go after the guy? Does he break her heart? Do they finally get together in the end? Does our protagonist nearly lose out on all for which she has worked so hard? Is there a really cool chase scene? Does somebody not get something he wants and was sort of expecting, but somebody else gets something wonderful and completely unexpected? Do we cry? Do we laugh? Do we curse and spit and hold our breath in anticipation? Do we clutch our hearts and let out a sigh? Or do we yawn and check the time and wonder when the show will end?

Allow me, if you will, to lead you in an exercise. What if your story began right now? What if this were page one? What if this were the first paragraph of the first chapter of YOUR book? What then? How would it read? How would the plot of your life develop? How would the characters change and grow? How would you bring it all together in the end? How would you write the very beginning of the ending of your book? Do this. Grab your coffee, pick up a pen, and put down those first few lines of the rest of your life. Begin simply…Once upon a time.....

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