I’m teaching a course on creative writing this semester at the school I work at. It’s one of my favorite classes, although I’m always struck at how hard it is to explain “art” to people. I’ve always loved stories and art and when I explain backstory and foreshadowing and timing and rhythm to people, I feel a little foolish.
I especially feel silly when it’s something that I feel like a lot of people should know, even if they don’t understand it.
Here’s an example: Where do stories come from?
Stories come from people, is my primary response. I walk my students through getting to know themselves, working with understanding who they are and why they are the way they are, and how to see through people to their core, where the main differences between them will arise.
No easy task for high schoolers. But plenty of adults don’t understand how I know them so well without being around them for very long, too.
That’s part of the reason I start making most of my stories from people – and yes, both real and imagined people.
Of course I’ve had ideas for stories come to me from more random, awkward, or unlikely sources. But it’s people who tend to intrigue me the most. I want to understand people (some of my students would argue that I want to understand how to control people, and when you’re desperately trying to get a student to actually care about turning in his or her homework, that might be a valid point).
That’s where we get to the fun part.
I like to have all my characters named before I give them a job, task, quest, or conflict. Names speak to me more than most things. Your name is the only thing which can fully identify you to another person.
It was this desire to play with names, and how they define us, that helped bring about my latest protagonist, Rose, in my new book, Beauty’s Curse (Once Upon a Princess Book 1). In the story, she is the Princess of Rhone, small kingdom. Since it is a retelling of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale, her real name is Aurora, but throughout the story, there are several names she is given or she creates for herself. It’s interesting (to me, anyway) to see how a name can really define a person, but also how it can encompass a person.
Check out the book and let me know what you think about Rose and her name.