Thursday, June 12, 2008

Why I Write: To tell a story, but to practice it first

I am not a good oral storyteller. I used to be better - I've scared roomfuls of kids with ghost stories - but I'm out of practice and I feel it.

One thing that holds me back is a reluctance to repeat myself verbally. Once I've told something once, I can't be bothered telling it again. But of course that practice helps get the story right.

That unwillingness to repeat myself is turned on its head when I come to writing stories. Here, I'm happy to continue reiterating an idea over and over again.

The true advantage of the written story is I don't need to get it right first time. In fact I'm not expected to - I'm pretty much required to practice it. The culture of screenwriting is such that if you haven't done half a dozen drafts, you've barely started.

Actually I can smell fear at the heart of my positions about both modes of storytelling.

I'm afraid to tell a story orally in case I get it wrong. And I'm afraid to let go of the written story in case I get it wrong.

My challenge then is to get stories out there and not let practice get in the way of achievement!