Where Stories Come From & Where They Lead

Every so often, I find learning the origin of stories can be as interesting as the stories themselves. I can think of a few specific books where, in addition to the stories themselves, there is either an introduction, a foreword or an afterword giving a little bit of a background about the novel or the stories within. How they came to be written, what inspired them, and the like.

I find it fascinating where some of the elements that go into a story come from. I’ve read stories that have come from images, dreams, artwork, even questions. In some ways, it’s kind of comforting that other people can get a random idea out of the blue and turn it into something that transcends its origins.

Of course, having the idea is only half the battle, if that. Once you have the idea, next you have to shape it, polish it, make it shine. Yes, I know I’m talking about stories like they are precious stones. Can you say I’m wrong in that?

I remember reading the uncut version of The Stand. In the foreword, Steven King (one of the authors of some of the books mentioned above) gives a synopsis of Hansel & Gretel, boiling it down to maybe half a dozen lines. That’s the idea of the story. Then he talks about the fleshing out the story, adding all the little touches that make it so much more than just the original idea. And hopefully, those additions will spark more ideas leading to more details and the whole thing will just keep rolling. To paraphrase, “The tale grows in the telling.”

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