How To Attract The Best Stories

Wednesday, September 06, 2017
Seriously windy at Fort Pulaski 
I am a big fan of history so when a friend said that she wanted to see Fort Pulaski, I was ready to go, despite the gale force winds along the Georgia coastline.

Now, I’ve seen the fort many times. But I always seem to find something new whenever I go and this time was no different. This time, I met a guy who was a ghost hunter.

Yep, a bonafide ghost hunter.

I had not been in the fort three minutes before this gentleman approached and said, “You know this fort is haunted, right?”

Well, you can’t spit around this part of Georgia without hitting a ghost, so I wasn’t too surprised. But I expect this gentleman was surprised when I started asking about his spectral experiences and EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomena). You see, I also happen to be a big fan of ghosts so we had a lively discussion about …er, the dead.

Later, when I told my brother about this adventure, he shook his head. “How is it you always attract these types?”

I laughed but he’s right. I do seem to attract folks who are somewhat unconventional. But there’s no mystery there. I’m just naturally curious and I’m a talker. Two traits that come in awfully handy if you’re a writer.

I often get great ideas for stories from the people I meet and the tales they tell. But I also get ideas from the funny things that happen. (Before I started my fort adventure, I needed to avail myself of the outdoor toilet facilities. You can’t really appreciate the strength of a gale force wind until a. you are wearing a dress and b. you really really need to go to the bathroom and can’t get the door open!) And so Homework for Life has also been a tremendous boon to my writing.

Have you see this TED talk by Matthew Dicks? I strongly recommend this practice for both fiction or non-fiction writers. Because the stories we live, the people we meet, the ideas that come to us, no matter how interesting or funny or meaningful, can slip away so easily!

I only need to write down a few highpoints; that’s enough information for me to pull more when I need it. But I’ll also sometimes journal about a feeling or event in my Homework Book and that’s been eye-and-soul opening, too.

So the next time that you sally forth from whatever your writing spot may be, whether it’s a little walk or a big adventure, don’t be in such a hurry. Talk to someone new or lots of someones, and listen to their stories. You might be surprised at what--or who!--you’ll find.

(And for heaven’s sake, don’t forget to write it down! Also, do not go adventuring in a dress when there are gale force winds.)

Cathy C. Hall is a kidlit author and humor writer. She's currently working on a middle grade novel and somehow, she'll work that port-o-potty mishap into the story. (Her latest release is Great Leaders of the World, from Darakwon in South Korea. Read all about it here!)


Pat Wahler said...

Sounds like you had quite an adventure.

Your point about writing things down has become my mantra. Otherwise my thoughts are, well, gone with the wind. :-)


Sioux Roslawski said...

Cathy--The wind often makes me grab my skirt. Otherwise, my granny-panties would be on display for all to see.

Linda O'Connell said...

Cathy, you and I would be dangerous together. I am a ghoster too. Plus I have this little raised mole on my forehead which I cover with bangs, because it attracts weirdos...who admittedly provide a lot of writing material. I always enjoy your columns. Thanks for the links.

Mary Horner said...

I love haunted places, and the stories behind them, which make them interesting !

Renee Roberson said...

I never met a haunted spot I didn't like! I'll have to check out that TED talk. I always love meeting new interesting people--need to use it more in my writing material.

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