Storytelling is one of my passions.
But, alas, I’m not a very good storyteller.
A few of the stories that I’ve written are fairly decent.
Most of them are not.
Even so, though, this passion remains. And, within this passion, there lies yet another passion: a passion for creativity, and the ways in which creativity pertains to storytelling.
You are about to learn a way of thinking that, in my experience, lets you tap into your innate creative abilities, as well as the infinite network of ideas that we all exist within.
For myself, this method has been useful; it’s lead to a plethora of ideas, as well as all of the stories published on this Medium blog.
For you, this method may not be very useful at all. Or, perhaps, you will find it very useful, and turn to it when you need some good ideas for new stories to tell.
I can’t say, since my experience is not your experience.
My only hope is that you play with this method and, in doing so, enjoy yourself.
A Network Of Ideas
Every idea contains, within itself, a network of related ideas.
Let’s use writing as an example.
Within the concept of writing, you can find the concept of language, the concept of words, the concept of language as a source of meaning and feeling, a list of mediums that allow for writing to take place; and so on and so forth.
You can take a look at one of those concepts and, in doing so, find a similar network of related ideas.
Every single idea, it would seem, is related to a seemingly limitless array of other ideas.
Stories are, of course, more than just a single idea.
Rather, stories are a collection of ideas.
Some stories are quite vast, containing a rich multitude of ideas.
Some stories are fairly small, containing a smaller set of ideas.
No matter what, though, every story contains, on some level, at least a few ideas.
Each one of those ideas serves as both the foundation upon which a story is built, as well as the key facets of the story itself.
Since this is the case, you can find, within every story, a network of ideas.
A network of related ideas within the story. A network of related ideas outside of the story.
If you can tap into this network of ideas, you can uncover a neverending world of possibilities.
Possibilities that you can transform into new stories, unique concepts, and vast landscapes of feeling, myth, and meaning.
Harnessing The Network
To play with this method, you will need a story.
A simple synopsis will work just fine.
For the purposes of this essay, our synopsis is as follows: with the help of a wise mentor, a young woman gains the ability to fly.
Sure, that’s a pretty poor synopsis, for a story that may not be very good.
For now, though, it’ll do just fine.
You can take a look at this synopsis, and find a vast network of ideas.
Right away, there’s the wise mentor and the young woman.
Who are they? What do these people believe? How did they meet? Where are they from? What do they spend most of their time doing?
None of these ideas are ideas, so much as they are questions that give way to entirely new possibilities.
In a way, that’s what every idea is; a unique set of possibilities that shift our understanding.
Right now, that’s the key: looking at a story, engaging with the infinite questions waiting to be asked, and letting those questions transform into new storytelling possibilities.
You can take some time to answer those questions.
Right after you do so, you can explore the answers that you’ve given.
Let’s say that the young woman grew up in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. That’s where she was born, and that’s where she still lives.
You can ask questions pertaining to who this young woman was — and, perhaps, still is — raised by, the house she grew up in, some formative experiences, the most important people in her life, what lead to our protagonist’s fascination with the concept of flight; and so on and so forth.
Each one of these possibilities serves two functions; you can understand your characters, while also understanding the ways in which your characters are connected to the world of the story.
Take a moment to think about the stories your characters are engaging with.
You can think about your protagonist’s parents. You can think about who they are. You can tell stories about them. You can tell a story about their best friends or their mentors. You can tell a story about their mentor, along with how their mentor met them.
Those are just a couple of examples.
If you would like to, you can dive even deeper, exploring the vast network of possibilities within the simplest — or most elaborate — elements and moments within a story.
A simple moment with the protagonist and her mentor sitting by a stream could turn into a series of ideas pertaining to the spiritual significance of that stream, the people who once lived on the stream, the metaphysical properties of water; ad infinitum.
To really take this to the next level, you can create a mythos or a short story — rather than just a synopsis — and, within that mythos or story, find an even more vast network of stories
Every story, as mentioned, contains a network of ideas.
If you take a moment to engage with this network of ideas, and are willing to ask questions and engage with what lies beyond the surface, you can access a neverending ocean of creative possibilities.
You can do this with stories. You can do this with ideas. You can do this with themes. You can do this with life.
No matter where you are, there exists a network of possibilities, each one a luminous gem waiting for you, and your unique perspective.
As always, thank you for reading this essay.
My hope is that you use this method, and enjoy doing so.
If you would like to reach me, please write a comment or send me an email — you can find my address on my Medium profile.
Best wishes, and have a lovely day!