Who makes the story?

Indulging in writing is an action which brings the mind closer to the art with each keystroke or

Photo by Megan Reigle

flick of the pen. To etch words into paper is only the medium in which we tell our stories to the world. These stories are products of our imaginations that we deem as boundless and deriving from tiny neutrons which float around our brain. Do we create the story?

Many writers including the horrific Stephen King claim that they do not create any stories. They simply discover a story, and interpret it to their readers. Sure this is no new spin on the writing curveball; storytellers throughout history observed situations in real life and elaborated to their kindsmen. Homer, the great Greek storyteller told all ‘true’ stories including the Illiad, and the tales of Troy. 

This creates a strange reality; as writers do we actually make our own stories? I know, well, believe that I do. I spent hours formulating my stories and drafting plots, and sometimes I must admit my stories do tell themselves. My characters breath and act on their own free will, I can imagine them as if they were constructed of bone and tissue before me.  So have I made these characters? Or merely discovered a plethora of characters which exist somewhere else?

So here’s my question to all my readers,

Do we as writers make our own characters? or are we merely discovering a world of characters and stories that we translate? I know the answer seems easy, but take a minute and reflect on your stories and characters that tend to tell themselves.


About Damian Rucci

D.F. Rucci is a writer, blogger, and a musician from a small town in New Jersey. View all posts by Damian Rucci

6 responses to “Who makes the story?

  • Maeve

    I think this depends greatly on the purpose of the story – what is really creeping around in your head, an idea, a concept, a plot, a character, a motivation, or something else entirely?
    I think that for many writers, the truth is somewhere in the middle; they do make efforts in creating stories, but these stories can also just “flow out” and complete themselves.
    This has been true of me until recently.

    Recently I would have to disagree. My stories are not discovered but created, and this change occurred because what was in my head changed. It is no longer about a singular plot point or character, but a concept and motivation to portray a very specific idea. This has caused me to try brainstorming before writing (although I still do not draft), and implement the use of diagrams to organize.
    I know many writers do this – they tell a story to spread an idea. Sometimes for social reasons, other times political. They make statements, and are constructed to do such. Stories like this can’t be “discovered.” They are made.

  • Damian Rucci

    I agree, most of my stories are created, but I have found that some of my writing does flow out of nothingness (or my sub-conscious). I’ve noticed some characters evolving from nothingness as well.

  • urbannight

    I think it is a combination of both. Something triggers an idea in my mind. It sits and stews for a while. Eventually I start to think about it on paper. I start with an idea of the characters and the story but as I work on it, they become alive in a way. You learn they won’t do certain things or will do things you were not planning on. The story starts out with a direction. But sometimes it just doesn’t want to go where you planned. Do you force the story back into your pattern or do you find out where it does want to go?

    I had one idea, I started working on characters, took the idea out into some outlines and realized it would work. In fact, it would work over three books.

    Then one day I had to move my car at 3:00 AM. I was several months into my work on the first story. It occurred to me that I didn’t agree with the social structure I had created the entire story around. I used it because it was the norm anymore. Striping out that framework also ripped my plot to shreds.

    One of these days, I’ll figure out how to tell the stories of these characters in a context that I myself can buy into.

  • Damian Rucci

    I usually like to let the story flow in to whichever way it chooses, however, sometimes I try to keep it on track if not it may deviant away from the core plots I have planned. I guess some stories are meant to wonder while some are structured on plot. In On Writing Stephen King describes this through some of his situational stories like Carrie where he just saw some strange girl in one of his classes and the story practically built itself.

  • geezergirl1

    My character’s come from all over the place. lol. Sometimes a character I’m thinking of and building in my mind pushes me into a story. Sometimes I’m drawn into a quality of a person I notice, or engage with when I’m out and about that compels me to grab their essence and let them pull me into a story. And sometime, I’m starting to bite at a story and some character I have observed needs me to put them in my story. Then they begin to unfold within that story to become more deeply themselves from what I imagine them to be.
    I definitely let them have their way with me. And… not without holding on to a form/structure for them to expose themselves in.
    I like their unexpected rebellion, their surprising rage or softness. I like when my character’s act unexpectedly and push the story to up a notch, forcing me to have to let go of what I think has to happen, to make the story richer and more powerful.
    Good question. thanks.

  • Damian Rucci

    Wow thank you everyone for your great comments! I agree with letting your characters take hold. Sometimes it just continues to flow and I usually am just there to guide it, in case it gets a little too outlandish. My stories are a mutual effort of myself and the characters who take roles in the story.

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