Got a great story but it’s just not selling? Or you’ve got a great idea but the story just isn’t working somehow? Need a way to think about short stories so you can generate ideas quickly? Well, here’s my THING 1 and THING 2 STORY METHOD.
You can use this for larger pieces of writing too but it works best for short things.
Think of an incident or a turning point in your own life, or the life of someone else you know, or someone you just made up 🙂 This could be anything from a traffic accident to the birth of a child to discovering your have cancer. ANYTHING! Remember it only has to be a thing.
In my story “Mrs Sunshine” I thought of a family breaking down, a young mother on the verge of leaving her partner and children – that was my incident.
For my story “Last Days on the 15th Floor” in Bjelke Blues – it was the last few days of ex-Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s rule when it is rumoured that he locked himself in his office and refused to leave.
In “Something No One Else Can See” my Thing 1 was the climbing number of suicides among farmers here in Australia.
Thought of something you could try? Good!
Thing 2 is important. Thing 2 is what gives your story another layer of meaning and depth. Thing 2 can be anything, any – thing at all 🙂 Somehow whatever you choose your brain will find a way to link it to the themes in your story. Thing 2 will help to amplify the hidden truths in your story without you even having to try that hard.
For “Mrs Sunshine” – Thing 2 was a Sunshine Family set of dolls I was given for Christmas as a child and came to mean a whole lot more than just toys. Mrs Sunshine became a symbol for the impossibly perfect ideal of motherhood.
In “Last Days on the 15th Floor” – Thing 2 was Joh’s Vietnamese cleaner whose father had been governor of her hometown. Her perspective gave the story a whole new understanding.
In “Something No One Else Can See” – two sisters coping with the loss of their mother, building fairy houses and believing in magic, helped to bring lightness to what could have been a very dark tale.
So, what is your Thing 2? Nothing immediately coming to mind? Look around you and pick an object. Any object. Put that into your story and see if the magic of imagination doesn’t somehow build that simple object into a meaningful part of your narrative.
Flick open a book and stab at a word. That could just be the key to adding another layer to your story. Have a close look at some short stories – can you find the Thing 1 and Thing 2?
But why stop there just because Dr Seuss did? Chuck in a Thing 3 if you feel like it!
THING 3 – an abstract noun like LOVE or HATE or REVENGE or FAITH or REGRET or FORGIVENESS.
Put your incident, your character or object and the noun together and what have you got?
A STORY – that’s what!
This post is making me go all Dr Seuss so I’d better stop now 🙂
I hope you get lots of great stories from Thing1 and Thing 2 (and 3).
Let me know how you go, and if you discover any THINGS in stories you read.
Oh, and only a few places still left in my next retreat – RELAX AND WRITE IN THE MOUNTAINS – March 27 – 29 2020 in Highfields near Toowoomba. See here for all the details.
Places are strictly limited to 15 so don’t miss out!
Lots of love