Thursday, February 17, 2011

Thoughts on Being a True Storyteller -- c.anne.gardner

I just love me some Chuck Wendig!!!! I am shouting this, note: excessive use of exclamation points.

Last week he had an interesting article/rant on what it takes to become a true storyteller, and I just can't let his toolkit go by without comment, but first:

The Essential Toolkit

To achieve this [becoming a true storyteller], he says, I suspect you must be:

  1. An excellent liar.
  2. Someone who is at least mildly disturbed.
  3. Capable of thinking of profound evils and delirious virtues in equal measure.
  4. Willing to commit acts of overwhelming cruelty to invisible, non-existent people.
  5. Someone who had lots of imaginary friends as a child. And possibly as an adult.

Wendig calls this a True Storyteller, but I like to call this Delusional Surrealist-Visionary syndrome.

I don't think you have to be an excellent liar -- I am not really fond of the term liar because in my fiction all your gonna get is truth -- but I think you have to be just delusional enough to believe all the crazy damn shit you make up. Oh, don't let any writer tell you otherwise; we do actually believe our own shit. We have to or it won't work. We never lie to the reader; we only lie to ourselves. That’s the black magic of it. We have to suspend our own disbelief before we can ask a reader to suspend theirs. It’s like a mentalist trapeze act. So, I suppose we can classify "delusional" as mildly disturbed, but some of us go way way way beyond a mild case of scab-picker. I know a guy who knows this other guy who knows a guy that can sit for hours in a corner extruding the fossilized dust mite lint from his belly button. It's the only way to get a quiet moment in the nuthatch he calls his creative mind. All those damn voices blathering at us all the time, who wouldn't want to hurt them, hurt them all, and hurt them bad. And that guy I know who knows that other guy with the frizzy hair and the lint fetish, he is mercilessly cruel: killed, tortured, and maimed cruel. He's had characters commit suicide, commit rape, commit murder, lie, cheat, steal, and self-flagellate all in the name of a story. Yea, that's right; he's even had little girls in frilly dresses eat turd and dead rat kebabs. You see, there's me and there's him, and we've got this thing we do. Been doing it since we were kids. We only bleed them a little, and the kind of friends we have don't seem to mind. We’re not afraid to go there, whereever there might be, no matter how dark, dank, or putrid. We've got our suitcases packed -- all liquorice and lace knickers -- train tickets in our pockets, cause that's what it takes...

Other’s rational thinking mileage will vary.

Cheryl Anne Gardner

Don't forget to stop by Wendig's blog to read the entire article. You won't be disappointed. After that, subscribe to his feed; you won't regret that either unless you are averse to flagrant expletive abuse.

The Art this week is Mad Kate by Henry Fuseli, 1806


Jim Murdoch said...

Off the page I am a lousy liar. Just can't do it. Well, I can, but you know I'm lying. The best I can manage is saying nothing, lying by omission. Never had an imaginary friend although I did give my latest protagonist an imaginary pet when she was little.

Cheryl Anne Gardner said...

Me too. I have shit for a poker face, but I did have a lot of imaginary things in my world when I was kid. Whatever gets you through the day, right?

N.M. Martinez said...

I'm a horrible liar too, so I always work a little bit of truth into the lie. I think I do the same thing with my stories so matter how out there. :)

RYCJ/Author, Publisher said...

Ha! Ha! I love this post! Must tweet it!

Roger Lawrence said...

You have to have a really good memory to be a liar - remembering what you told and to whom etc. I have a terrible memory so I don't even bother to lie. Sometimes I can't even remember what the truth is. Needless to say I'm in trouble a lot of the time.