Happy Easter, Purple Iris X 3, Storytelling

Purple Iris x 3 - variations on a theme
altered digital photos, e. schoettler

This week-end I have been working on new stories for programs coming up in May. One is about Mama. I have been thinking about it a lot the past few weeks - you know the way you let a song or idea play in the background as you mull it over. This week-end I re-crafted the opening and closing in a way that is a bit different for me and that I think strengthens the story.
It has set me to thinking about this question. How do you refine your craft? It happens with me in different ways and often not when I am expecting it.
Last week when Jim was in the hospital I read Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book aloud to him. I have already read the book and as I read out loud I savored the words and the flow of the opening chapter differently because I knew the story. I saw the structure of the opening and the way in which he grabbed you into the story with surprise and a bit of shock almost from the first words. That recognition settled into my awareness and I continued to think about it long after Jim had taken over the book and was relishing it on his own.
A few days later we watched our latest Netflix selection, Stephanie Daley. The movie is a sensitive, very emotional story about a teenager's accidental pregnancy. The story is moving and compelling and emotionally draining. But its the opening images on the film that are shocking and vivid for me - the camera focuses on the young girl's ski boots as she walks across a slope - each footstep red and bloody against the white snow.
These two instances of powerful openings rolled around in my thinking - brushing up against one another, polishing each other until they connected with me. Voila. I got it. And used it to polish Mama's story.
And, if I dare, I will open the story by singing a bit of an old song. That will be a shock - for me.