I don’t know a ton about journalism, but I’ve seen my share of movies about journalists who “refuse to go too far,” and read plenty of news stories about journalists who, in a show of ethics, refuse to reveal their sources. I’ve also heard stories (via television specials and movies) about how far journalist will go to get a story: head straight into the heart of war, deceive friends, stay up all night, pound the streets to seek out sources.
In certain ways, I’m reminded about the search for stories that we creative writers face. I know that I am always looking for a good story–that, and good photographs: my eyes and ears these days search for stories and a good picture. Something looks or sounds good, and then I wonder how I would frame such a story or such a shot. I think in many ways, I’ve sought stories my entire life.
Most dramatically, in my twenties, I tried to CREATE my own drama and justify it by saying, “I’ll write about this someday.” I broke up with perfectly decent boyfriends in cruel fashion because a story isn’t a story without conflict. I’ve gotten myself hurt to capture feeling, too. I’d say that was going too far. Like a well written story, you can’t be a tyrant and force situations.
Here are some other ways I’ve heard writers find a story:
- A Famous Writer once announced that she/he was on the search for a new story. She/he urged us “to be interesting!” We tried our best to be very boring.
- Tobias Wolff’s protagonist in “Old School” steals a story.
- I’ve read essays by old French philosophers.
- I’ve sat in cafes and eavesdropped.
- I check out post secret
- I’ve used writing prompts.
- I’ve emulated the great writers.
What have you done to find a story?