Shoot for the Moon
Shoot for the Moon—It is a good place to start out your writing or telling a story
*For our fifteen-day trip to Vienna, Budapest, Salzburg, and Prague, we had a homebase and that was the hotel called Mooons (Yes, it is deliberately spelled with three o’s.) This was our beginning point and our return place
for day trips and the place we would come back after staying two days. This made me think of how important it is when writing or telling a story to have a central place to return. A story is strong when we reinforce the roots that made the story.
Take a minute to think of what are the roots of your story in your most recent piece of writing or telling? The roots are the essential stems or tenets that hold the story together.
This can happen when creating a character or a plot point.
When you paint a character, we need to come back and reinforce the way they are first introduced to build a sense of the character. When the character acts differently than when we painted him/her/they, it is intentional choice and can have more of an impact in the story. This difference stands out because the action doesn’t comply with the roots.
Imagine creating a story of an archer although wears bottle cap glasses always makes his mark, if you reinforce this, the time that he hits 7-year-old Lorraine instead of the bullseye will stand out even more.
The same can be true of plot points, if a writer/teller returns to the plot point, readers and/or listeners can build resonance for the places in the story.
Imagine a tale when "Fast Andy" can break speed records for arriving on time. He arrives nine times with no problem. On the tenth time, he is so late he is fired. It stands out because you broke the root that you established with the repetition.
What does it mean to have roots in the story?
Instead of simply writing a story from beginning to end, think how you would respond to the question of why am I writing/telling this story? Here is an exercise that will help you explore the roots of a new story.
I recently read about the 3Why’s employed in sales and I would argue if you wanted to reach the roots of story, consider the 3 Why’s.
As you write or make a story, especially before or at the initial stage of your writing or making of a story, ask the following:
Why are you writing/telling this story?
Then, ask, why are you really writing/telling this story?
Then, ask, why are you really, I mean really writing/telling this story?
This can direct you closer to the roots. Write down your responses. Better yet, share your responses out loud with a deep listening partner.
My wife Barbara and I could always return to this Mooons hotel. We became familiar with this location. The motto was “no stars only moons.” I found myself returning to this saying as we stayed in the hotel. It was echoed in the elevator we rode every day to start our morning and return at night. Hence, the repetition.
In school we learn to sit at an empty desk and write a story. A teacher often won’t look at our writing until a rough draft is completed. This sends the message that the review process is only done when first drafts are finished. However, in talking and coaching many writers I rarely see them work in this fashion. Instead, they might spend an hour on what one room might look like and how the perspective can change when someone steps in the room. They are effective when they are building a scene from what they have already built. One should see this as building blocks that often reinforce other blocks but not always…. Sitting and writing a whole story can take you away from the roots. Writing or telling in episodes can help you craft your work because you have a more intimate eye on it. There will be a time when telling it together helps, but playing with parts of the story and building from the roots can help the making of the story.
As one will notice when we entered the place, the Mooons were everywhere. The roots started at the beginning. If I was to write or tell the story, I would say, “Upon entering, I knew that the hotel was not the same at the Holiday Inn we stayed last night. The round circles reminded us we were stepping out of this world.
In the design of this hotel, the designers did this. Being the storyteller, I could not help but see this a metaphor for story crafting.
As we walked down the hallway, the roots of being on the moon was reinforced. To echo this idea in a story. I would say or write, “Each step I took reminded me of Neil Armstrong’s leap on the Moon, as we practically skipped down the hallway, our destination was one jump at a time.” Note we can overdo the telling of the roots if we simply echo what we said, instead we find new ways to reinforce the roots.
Everywhere we looked, a new way to feel the root of Mooons was felt. As tellers/writers, we need to realize the value of the echo. This hotel knows this value.
On our 13th day, the Mooons opened the rooftop terrace for the first time. We knew it was opening but not if we were going to be there to see it. We were and this brings up how the element of surprise can heighten a story. This is for another time, but it is coming….
I now send an invitation to you to write a story or engage in the story making before you tell or write a story by asking the 3 Why’s of your story before you start. Then, practice new ways to reinforce the roots of the story. Feel free to share the results in the comment section or send it to me to share as a blog submission. I so value the feedback I have received and glad that the first exercise helped you with your writing/telling of a story. Let us keep the conversation moving.
You can send images and your reflections to my email at email@example.com or drop me a line to share your story involvement. We would love to listen.