Storytelling for idiots


I am not a natural storyteller. I'm a natural writer, and a moderately natural creator-of-characters, but when it comes to figuring out what happens next, forget it.

Conversations with myself at chapters 3, 9, 22 and 31 tend to go something like this...

ME: World comes to an end and they live happily ever after?

ME1: Crap.

ME: Tree falls in the forest, everyone hears?

ME1: Nice twist, but...nah.

ME: Heroine turns out to be alien?

ME1: Next.


My lack of story-telling prowess is the reason I fall back so frequently and comfortably on The Journey. Lead your innocent character through a dark wood and things are bound to happen. And as I frequently suggest to my audiences of keen young people (or the jaded middle-aged, with whom I identify far more), you can always steal a plot and make it your own — as long as you don't pilfer whole paragraphs of prose, or someone else's voice, or that quirky unusual ending where the clown and the dog turn out to be long lost sisters.


But recently it occurred to me that there is one piece of simple biological evidence that we are all storytellers.


Night time arrives, our conscious brains shut down, and the subconscious goes to town — creating whole worlds complete with long forgotten friends, bizarre landscapes, elaborate symbolism and weird plotlines that wouldn't occur to us when we're awake.

Access that subconscious. It's all waiting for you.