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Posts tagged ‘Stephen Dobyns’

Short story writing method reveals New Year’s theme

Instead of making a list of New Year’s resolutions, my friend Nicole likes to have a theme – a single statement that encompasses a key idea that she wants to focus on for the year. For 2012, I decided to adopt a writing theme – one that would help me focus on the power of imagination.

Sometimes it’s easy to over think the writing process. I’ll worry if I don’t know where my story is going. I begin to doubt myself and the project. Then I have to remind myself (again) that we write to discover, to find out what happens. It’s okay if I don’t know everything that’s going to happen.

In The Story Behind the Story: 26 Stories by Contemporary Writers and How They Work, author Stephen Dobyns says he was inspired to write a book of short stories after hearing advice from writing mentor Raymond Carver. Dobyns asked Carver how he had written a particular story:

“He (Carver) said the first sentence had come into his mind and he just followed it. The sentence was something like: “He was vacuuming the living room rug when the telephone rang.” Carver said, ‘It came into my head and so I tried to see what came next.’ In such a way had the story unwound itself.”

After the first sentence, the whole process had been a process of discovery. Read more