Blog Archive

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Constant Swirling Thoughts that Create the Story

James A. Michener once said,
I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.
That is what we create or try to create when we write – a deep swirl of words that will bring the reader deeper into the story to the point that we feel a part of it.

When you’ve read a really good story, don’t you hate it when it ends because you have to say good-bye to the people you've met? You will never know what future fates might await those made up inhabitants that feel like friends. Unless of course the writer decides to do a sequel, then you can move on with the characters and share in their triumphs and sorrows. I do love book series like Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne, Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot, and Jan Karon and her folks in Mitford.

It’s great when a book wraps up the story and gives you the epilogue so you have a future story that you can let swirl in your own brain. Then there are the continuing written stories on TV that get to be acted out. Actors who play those roles get "hellos" on the street by their character's names from people who feel they know them. TV is a swirling of smoke and mirrors getting you to believe the people are real.

My problem with TV stories is when a series that I have become involved with is suddenly canceled. One show in particular that I liked (but not enough Nielsen families did) was Flashforward. This show began as everyone in the world blacks out for 137 seconds (why that specific time frame was never answered but a Biblical reference could give a clue using those numbers) and they “flash forward” to see visions of their lives six months in the future. Many of those visions were unsettling and had the characters wondering if that future could be changed. For others they wanted to get to it quicker. So the viewers never got to see the fully evolved story that the writers had swirled in tornado like fashion with so many of the characters being sucked into the vortex of each others lives.

I used to watch soap operas which are great for creating your own story line as the plot lines are so glacial with just the occasional calving. When I couldn’t sleep at night because my brain was creating too many thought devils (like dust devils being mini dust tornadoes) I would create my own storyline taking characters from all different shows and swirling them together in a new creation known as All my Children who are living with Friends in Smallville.

So what thoughts are swirling in your head today? What stories can you create to draw others into your creative writing world?

This month’s blog chain as listed on the right is about swirling as is today’s post. Swirl on!


  1. Great take on swirling. I have to agree....

  2. Excellent swirling post, Chris! Loved it!

  3. I couldn't agree more, writing = swirling. XD Sometimes we wish there was less swirling and more control, but perhaps it is the chaos of the swirling of ideas which we are truly addicted to as writers?

  4. Love the quote! Good take on our topic!

  5. I LOVE the James Michener quote, and absolutely agree about not wanting to say good-bye to rich and fleshed-out characters we've met in good books. Althought my head doesn't swirl with characters, it is constantly a-swirl with words! Great post, Chris!

  6. The quote at the beginning is superb. 'The swing and swirl ...' Love it. It reminds me of the creative process in general. As an art teacher, I have had occasion to do an activity with children which is really cool and demonstrates this 'creative swirl'. Giant paper is taped to the walls all around them - no borders and as high and low as they can reach. They are given a variety of media to work with and then music is played. it is short clips from a variety of music from classical to country to heavy metal. They scribble, draw, and 'swirl' whatever they feel like to the music. it is very interesting to see the differences between music on the paper and very expressive.
    Oops! Kind of long! Good post! :)

  7. Great post, Chris. I relate to your creating new storylines for cherished TV show characters. I've often done the same thing for characters when their shows end.

    One in particular was Scarecrow and Mrs. King, back in the late 80s/early 90s. I loved the characters portrayed by Kate Jackson and Bruce Boxleitner too much to let their story fade to black when the series ended, so I dreamed up my own stories for their lives after the show.

    Glad to know I'm not the only one who does that. :)

  8. Good post. I love the 'swirl' of creating a book - as I poet I deal in images rather than characters so each poem has to be 'complete'in some way or other. Trouble is I like the process and when the book is complete and the finished product is in my hand (however braincurdlingly wonderful the book may be) there's a vacuum of emotion - not disappointment exactly but the sort of depression that a junkie must feel after a drug high. Poets are strange folk !

  9. Great blog! I've nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award. Check out my blog at to see what's it's all about.

  10. Reading a series is great when you find some brillint characters.
    That's a shame about Flash Forward. There are so few decent shows on TV these days that when one of them gets cancelled it is frustrating. That's the problem with television - business decisions can mean that the story never gets finished.

    It sounds like you created some interesting crossover stories. When I was a teenager I came up with a crossover between 'Lois and Clark the new adventures of Superman' and 'Star Trek The Next Generation'.

  11. Great post. I agree it is great when a good book swirls together a cast of characters that you fall in love with, or the same with a TV show. I like the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, because the characters are interesting and not cookie cutter people. One of my favorite TV shows is NCIS, and it is the characters that make the show good, not just the storylines.

  12. I've definitely had those nights when the swirl of story keeps me up! Great post!! :)