Where Do Stories Come From?

Any author will tell you the most common question we receive is “Where do stories come from?” I can’t explain it so much as demonstrate it.

“Hunter?”

“Yes, mom?”

“I saw you and your friend, Noah, riding your bicycles today.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Both of you were wearing your helmets?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Did you wear it all day or did you take it off?”

“I only removed it when we stopped to play in the creek.”

“Did you wear it when you rode your bike home?”

“Oops.”

“Hunter? Did you lose your helmet again? You need to march down there and find it.”

As I’ve said many times, my stories come from real life and are totally true—except, of course, for the parts I make up. The problem is it’s difficult for me to tell which is which. My eyes see something. My imagination picks at its threads. Soon, I’m remembering the original event better than it actually happened. That makes me a lousy witness in a courtroom, but it’s quite useful as a writer.

For example, Jaxon with an X opens with a young boy stumbling down the side of Interstate 40 in the middle of a snowstorm. That scene came to me a couple of hours before dawn one winter morning as I saw a coyote loping along the breakdown lane on the same stretch of highway. My story is absolutely true, except for a slight change in species and other little details.

Do you see how hard that is to explain?

“Hunter?”

“Yes, mom?

“I saw you and Noah skateboarding today.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Both of you were wearing your helmets?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Did you wear it all day or did you take it off?”

“I only removed it when we stopped to play in the creek.”

“Did you wear it when you rode your skateboard home?”

“Oops.”

“Hunter? Did you lose your helmet again? You need to march down there and find it.”

Twice a day, we walk the dogs down the street to the entrance of our neighborhood greenway and go for an hour-long stroll. A pair of bollards prevent vehicular traffic from going on the trail. They perform double duty as a lost and found receptacle. This sight greeted us the other day:

missing helmet - where stories come from

So what, you’re thinking, someone left a helmet and a kind soul placed it on a post to wait on its rightful owner. What’s the big deal?

As they say on late night infomercials—Wait! There’s more.

This quite distinctive helmet appears on this post or in some other random spot every few weeks. The owner of this helmet appears to be quite forgetful. Thus, on the walk, my mind kept picking at this little scene creating explanations.

“Hunter?”

“Yes, mom?”

“I saw you and Noah with my good towels tied around your necks pretending to be superheroes and jumping out of trees.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Both of you were wearing your helmets?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Did you wear it all day or did you take it off?”

“I only removed it after we flew down to the creek with our superhero powers and played in the water.”

“Did you wear it when you flew back home?”

“Oops.”

“Hunter? Did you lose your helmet again? You need to march down there and find it. And stop using my good towels.”

Now some of you might have noted the little scene about kids wearing towels as capes and jumping out of trees and believe that’s the part of this story that is made up. Sadly, I can attest to this being true because we did that as kids. Probably shouldn’t have used mom’s good towels and picked shorter trees, but facts are facts.

Of course, I don’t know if Hunter jumped out of trees or wore a towel as a cape. I don’t even know if Hunter is real. But merging a story from my past with a current story is part of the artistry.

Or, maybe, it’s a side effect from landing on my head jumping out of trees as a kid. The cape might not have worked as well as it did in the movies. Let’s not allow facts to get in the way of a good story.

Of course, I have to accept the fact that maybe Hunter isn’t as forgetful as I suspect.

“Hunter?”

“Yes, mom?”

“I saw you and Noah headbutting each other like a pair of billy goats.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Both of you were wearing your helmets?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Did you wear it all day or did you take it off?”

“I only removed it when he headbutted me into the creek and it got wet.”

“Did you wear it when you headbutted your way back home?”

“Oops.”

“Hunter? Did you lose your helmet again? You need to march down there and find it.”

“Come on, mom. Noah has this super cool new helmet and I want one.”

“New helmet? Do you think money grows on trees?”

That little rascal Hunter has been losing that helmet on purpose. He’s been trying to score a sleek, new model but has the misfortune to have neighbors who keep returning his old one. What a bad boy.

If, of course, Hunter actually exists. I don’t really know.

At least I’ve explained where stories come from.

Any questions?


Despite my crystal clear explanation above, some may still be slightly confused about how writers do what they do. Perhaps, then, George Saunders’ explanation in The Guardian may be more helpful.

If nothing else, this one line is pure gold—”An artist works outside the realm of strict logic.” I think I’ve made that part quite clear.


My love of language includes the enjoyment of vocabulary words and their etymology. For years, I’ve included a word of the month in my newsletter, but I decided to move that feature to the Monday Musing so I can feature more words over the year.

This week’s focus is a noun—raconteur—a person who excels in telling anecdotes (short stories about interesting or funny events). Whether or not I excel is a judgment call I leave up to my readers, but my weekly musings typically feature such anecdotes, so I am an aspiring raconteur.

The word came into English from French—raconter or “to tell.” The French word traces back to the Old French aconter (to tell) which derives from acompter (to count) which evolved from the Latin computare (to count).

Now for the fun part (really, this is fun—stick with me). Computare is also related to the word account which gives us the words accounting and accountant. You may have recognized already that computare also is the basis for computer. Since I was an accountant in my corporate career and a story teller today who works on a computer, the word computare forms the basis for much of my life.

That was the fun part.

Now, go impress someone with your vocabulary knowledge. You can even tell a little story to demonstrate your skills as a raconteur.


The Lottery 50% Off Coupon at Barnes & Noble

For the first time ever, Barnes & Noble is running a half-price sale on the NOOK (ebook) version of my first novel, The Lottery. Use Coupon Code BNPLOTTERY50 on check out to receive the discount. The offer expires January 8.

If you haven’t read the book, here is your chance to pick it up. Feel free to share the coupon code with your friends or on social media.

Click here to visit the book’s page at Barnes & Noble.


Gratuitous Dog Picture

Frankie Suave's big, brown eyes
Frankie Suave’s big, brown eyes

Frankie Suave might be the calm member of The Herd, but he certainly knows how to get his way. He utilizes his not-so-secret weapon—those big, soulful, brown eyes. Yep, he might have scored some treats while his younger brothers frolicked in the yard.


Happy New Year

I continued my long-standing New Year’s Eve tradition by being sound asleep by 10 p.m. Somehow, the New Year started without me having to be awake at midnight.

Wishing you and your family a healthy, enjoyable, and rewarding 2022.


3 Comments

  1. Debbie & Miss Ruby on January 3, 2022 at 7:13 am

    Now we all know the secret to being a great author. As we always say treats for the sweet, in my house at least. He does have sweet eyes. Happy 2022.

  2. Jean Burkhardt on January 3, 2022 at 10:44 am

    HU-Dad-your mind amazes me with the stories you tell!

    I never seem to make the midnight hour anymore for New Years BUT it comes anyway!! Happy 2022!

    Frankie’s eyes would get me every single time and a treat would be given!

  3. Karen on January 4, 2022 at 9:44 am

    Wherever they come from, keep them coming. I love, love, love reading your stories.

Leave a Comment





Three Ways To Follow D.K. Wall

Social Media

Good

Clicking follow on your favorite social media will show you some, but not all, of the new postings. Unfortunately, in their quest for advertising dollars, they insist we pay to send our posts to all our readers. You have to train the feed by liking and commenting on posts.

RSS

Better

Be instantly notified of new postings of the Monday Musings and Books Read. FREE tools like Feedly and Inoreader allow you to keep track of the latest postings from your favorite websites. Just add https://dkwall.com/feed/ to the reader of your choice.

Newsletter

Best

A monthly email with news about upcoming books, links to Monday Musings and Books Read, fun surveys with your fellow readers, and subscriber exclusives. New subscribers receive two FREE ebooks. You may unsubscribe at any time, no questions asked.