This isn’t only a blog about writing. The Fiction bit is half the writing process: dreaming up the story, thinking of how it’s going to go, and narrowing down conclusions could easily be considered half the battle. And writing talents isn’t necessarily synonymous with thinking up a story: I know probably half a dozen people who can think of a good story but have very little talent in writing.
A good dreamer may not be a good writer, and a good writer may not be a good dreamer. The main difference between the two is that the dreamer has other options of ways to vent his or her creativity. Whereas the writer can only write, the dreamer (with the right amount of effort) can still create a form of fiction, even though they may choose to forgo writing.
There are plenty of great options out there for everyone who’s wanted to create a story but has historically hated writing. While I am a firm believer in the fact that books and literature are the best way to communicate a story, there are other effective (and fun!) ways to tell a story.
Even if you’re a committed writer, I would still recommend a few of these as exercises. Learning to tell stories in a variety of different ways broadens your understanding of how to tell stories in general, not just writing. Remember, “writing” is not synonymous with “fiction”. There’s a good deal of nonfiction out there as well.
Alternate Storytelling Method #1: Movies
This is probably the most obvious option. A movie is a very entertaining medium of storytelling, mainly because it takes very little effort to watch a movie. Reading is harder than sitting an observing. A picture tells a thousand words, and sometimes words have ambiguity that images don’t.
Movies also have the advantage of cool visual effects (a fiery explosion fireballing towards the main hero leaves nothing in doubt) and of music, which can tell a very empathetic story of their own. Readers of books have to actually think to visualize such things in literature, which is why movies that make you think are a cut above the rest in my opinion.
In that respect, a movie is a bunch of different forms of media rolled into one. It can be very convincing: after all, you’re seeing these things acted out before your eyes as if they were in real life. If you didn’t know any better, you’d want to consider applying to Star Fleet about a job as a cadet aboard the Enterprise.
Most people don’t have the proper equipment for making a blockbuster film, but a fair amount of people right here in the US could make could make something that isn’t half so bad with an iPhone or a decent set of animation skills. If you ascribe to any form of fanfiction, you’re probably aware of the lengths some fans go to to tell their stories. I have seen CG cinematics and even decent (albeit almost completely obscure) video games created by fans and other unlikely people. You’re probably not going to make very much money with Matrix 5: Communions, but you would probably make a cool YouTube video and have a lot of fun doing so. Things like this are totally possible, and I’ve seen it happen.
Alternate Storytelling Method #2: Drawing, Painting, and Other Forms of Artistry
This one is more out of the blue, and is probably used more for a supplement rather than a medium. While it is still used as a supplement for literature most of the time, it can still be used on its own.
You could say that all art tells a story. While that sounds very wise and story-bookish, it is a blanket statement and you should always take care when affirming blanket statements (except that one…LOL). However, this is true of some art that you probably didn’t think it applied to–particularly, painting and drawing. (I think music falls into this category as well, but we already discussed that briefly in the last section, and to cover it in-depth is the subject of another blog post)
If you don’t know how to draw or paint very well, you could always learn. If you have some experience, you can describe certain scenes of a story through pictures that you paint or draw. The story would be over in about 10-12 pictures, but that’s one way of telling a story. (Technically, since a picture tells a thousand words, you need 40 of them to make a 40,000 word novel…ha ha…)
Alternate Storytelling Method #3: Games (Particularly, Role Playing Games)
There is probably a better option to put here, but since I have a personal chip or two to add to the pile in this respect, I figured that I’d add it, just for kicks. (Plus, now you know why I plastered the D&D logo at the top of this blog post) But this is, in my opinion, one of the more fun and easy options in the list.
I think that most of you are familiar with Dungeons and Dragons. For those of you who are not aware, it’s a pen and paper-based Role Playing Game, which consists of controlling a completely character-customized hero with dice and the judgment of a DM (Dungeon Master) on an adventure where they gain experience, get cool loot, go on a variety of different adventures, and save the world.
Sounds like a video game, and indeed it was the father of modern RPGs. It was basically a video game on paper before they were that in-depth. You could learn coding and create a video game as a medium to tell a story, but that is not for the faint of heart: I myself have tried my hand at it and was never any good.
But either creating or playing a pen and paper RPG is much easier than creating a video game, and you get far more freedom. Plus, you don’t need insane amounts of collaboration or money if you so choose to do this option. However, more than one person would be optimal. If you’re hardcore, however (like me) you can still play it alone.
The cool thing about RPGs is that the characters (you and whoever else is playing) decide their own fates. Do you want to go into the enchanted forest, the zombie-infested city, the dank dungeon, the snowy peaks, or the pit of hell? Your choice. You decide how to get there, how you’ll triumph, and what you do with the spoils. This is a lot like how a fictional piece of literature is written.
If you should choose to try one of these projects, I have two commands for you: Learn and have fun. If you learn, it wasn’t a waste of time even though you didn’t have fun. If you had fun, you had a 99% probability of learning something and your time still wasn’t wasted.
Good luck, and happy writing! (Or filming, or painting, or gaming…)
Be sure to check out my latest novel, Book 1 in the Praetors of Lost Magic Series, and our Publications page. Until then, writers!