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Where do stories come from? Find out here

Are you curious about where stories come from? How a writer comes up with a particular idea? I find it energizing to learn the story behind the story.

Some stories come to their authors in a rush, seemingly out of nowhere. Others say, a chance encounter, or an observation of something odd sparked their story. Then as they wrote, the meaning revealed itself and the language and the emotion rose to the surface and drove the story home.

Author Andrea Barrett, who wrote the short story, “Out Here,” didn’t have characters, a voice, a story, a plot, any sense of the underlying structure, a title, or even the phrase “out here.” But she says in the book, “The Story Behind the Story,” that when she found the phrase, “out here,” that piece of language delivered all the rest of what she needed to craft the story.

“That seems to me interesting: that it is through language – the rhythm, the syntax, the infolded meanings of a certain phrase — that so much else can be generated.”

If you like the insight that comes from how others discover their art, read The Story Behind the Story: 26 Stories by Contemporary Writers and How They Work, edited by Barrett and Peter Turchi. This anthology of short stories includes an essay by each author that reveals how the stories came to be, what inspired them, how they evolved through different drafts, how “real life” and fiction intersect, and how the stories, in their final form, both fulfill and transcend their authors’ original designs.

Where do your stories come from?

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