Story Inventory

9781555974770Many (many) moons ago, I read Ron Carlson’s aptly titled, Ron Carlson Writes A Story. Recently I had the good sens to read it again and was reintroduced to the idea of story inventory.

Now I can’t quit thinking about it, whether I’m reading, listening, or writing.

The idea is pretty simple…when in doubt, include things.

You can do much of this without a lot of forethought. Just transcribe the people and their actions that are rattling around in your head. Include things like a character’s name or the car he/she drives or something about his/her appearance or even the room they happen to occupy.

Then have this character do some things, simply, “small acts that reveal character.”

When you come up for air, see what’s there. What you will likely find are the seeds of credibility and some helpful narrative evidence to propel the story forward.

This oversimplification may not be all that helpful. So my main advice here is to go get a printed copy of the book. My copy has been highlighted in yellow, scribbled in pencil, and notated in blue ink. Thankfully I have a whole drawer full of colorful pens for future re-re-readings. The book really is that good.

In case you missed the link the first time: Ron Carlson Writes A Story.

(Disclaimer: I don’t know Mr. Carlson, but have often wished I could have sat in for a few of his classes. And if he wants to pay me for this plug, I’ll take it!)

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