Story Starters, Part 3

“Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose, or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic and fear which is inherent in a human situation.”–Graham Greene

Have you ever found yourself with the wrong friends? A fur hunter in the 1800s was severely injured after a bear attack. Because one of his hunting companions didn’t want to be burdened with continuing to drag the dying man through the brutally cold, uncharted wilderness, he buried the wounded man alive. Wrong companions, riveting adventure. The Revenant is based on a true story of perseverance.

What if you felt that you were born in the wrong body? In the early 20th century, artist Einar Wegener was married to Gerda when he began to realize that he was a woman in a man’s body. With the love and encouragement of his wife, he eventually sought gender re-identification surgery to become Lili Elbe. Wrong body, passionate love story. The movie, The Danish Girl, is loosely based on a true story.

Have you ever found yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time? The nine year old son of a Nazi commandant living near a Jewish internment camp approaches the camp’s wire fence and befriends an imprisoned boy his age. Eventually the Nazi’s naive son crawls under the fence to join his new friend in finding the boy’s lost mother. Wrong place, wrong time, heartbreaking fictional story. The first draft of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas was written by John Boyne in two and a half days.

What would you do if you felt an attraction to someone of your same gender? Carol, an older, soon-to-be divorced mother of one daughter, is attracted to Therese, a young salesclerk and aspiring photographer. A developing romance between the two women in the early 1950s showed the harsh consequences of their love affair. Wrong time, strained relationship. The movie, Carol, is a story based on the novel, The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith.

Have you ever questioned the word of authorities? A Nigerian forensic pathologist’s research on severe brain injuries or chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) causes an uproar in the world of American football. The National Football League questions his findings as Dr. Bennet Omalu questions the NFL’s lack of concern for its players’ wellbeing. Wrong concerns, on-going controversy. The movie, Concussion, is a true story based on the research of Dr. Bennet Omalu.

Consider now what you see as the wrong company, physique, location, relationship, focus, or any other wrong that you see in the human condition. As a writer, you can analyze, portray, or correct what you see as wrong. Don’t just think about it. Write about it. Are you game?


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    • Kelly Bixby on February 17, 2016 at 12:03 pm
    • Reply

    Barbara, you paint with your words and inspired this thought in me: As long as we’re living, we will face conflict. How we deal with it becomes part of our story. Make it glorious!

      • Barbara Pattee on February 20, 2016 at 10:07 pm
      • Reply

      Thank you, Kelly. Yes, we must learn to deal with conflict in life as well as in our stories.

  1. Really great examples and a lot to think about. Each one creates an otherwise boring story by adding something that has at one point been taboo to upend the characters, or the situation the characters find themselves in, to give the reader or the audience at the movie that little twist to the heartstrings. It makes for compelling reading.

      • Barbara Pattee on February 8, 2016 at 10:51 pm
      • Reply

      Thank you, Wendi. Finding great stories with the unusual plot twist is so much fun. I’m a true book lover and movie buff.

    • Kook-Wha Koh on February 6, 2016 at 3:50 pm
    • Reply

    Interesting story.
    I enjoyed to read it

      • Barbara Pattee on February 6, 2016 at 7:55 pm
      • Reply

      Thank you, Kook-Wha.

  2. Exceptions always make for the best stories. Thanks, Barb.

      • Barbara Pattee on February 6, 2016 at 7:56 pm
      • Reply

      You’re welcome, Phil. I enjoy the unusual stories in books and movies.

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