Storytelling: Awesome

Posted on July 6, 2011


When I first saw the 1997 movie Night Watch, I was on an Alaska Airlines flight from Seattle to Boston. I’d rented one of their little media players, and it was one of the selections. I was blown away. It was awesome.

So how do you bring awesome to your story?

Step one, turn off your internal editor. Stop listening to that little voice that says “No, I can’t;” or “No, I shouldn’t.” My favorite way of doing that is to make lists. For example, make a list of 20 porn names.

Actually, I make lists all the time. One of my storytelling outlets is running Dungeons & Dragons games. I have lists like 101 Strange Loot Items, 101 Cool Ideas, 101 Dirty Little Secrets, and 101 Mysterious Utterances. Okay, they’re not all 101 items long, but I keep working on them. When I need inspiration, I go back to the lists.

Step two, go too far. Exaggerate your normal style. Make things bigger, louder, faster than normal. Chances are, your “too far” is just far enough for your audience.

Step three, look for inspiration from other storytellers, in all styles. Go to an art gallery. Go to a concert. Check out Pandora internet radio. I’ve discovered a lot of new music through it, and usually leave it playing while I write. Watch foreign and independent films.

Engage your senses. Legend is a legendarily cheesy film, but the visuals are amazing, and I (like a lot of male humans) am visually inspired.

Guillermo Del Toro’s films are always visually amazing – Cronos, Mimic, The Devil’s Backbone, Blade II, Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth, and Hellboy II, are all fine films.

Step four, reduce or eliminate distractions. Turn off the TV. Close the blinds. If you must listen to music (and sometimes it helps blanket out sounds from the street or the next room), try listening to instrumentals.

You bring the awesome by looking for it, and by trusting yourself. Seeing it in others and in their work inspires you. Sometimes you’ll fall on your face – especially at first. Each time you try, you’ll learn a little more. You’ll taste success. You’ll learn how to inspire yourself.

Go too far. Stretch yourself.

Be awesome.

Posted in: Self-Reference