Stories Create Stories


To form the most fundamental and basic pillars of strength in creative writing, a writer must also be a reader. And I don’t mean someone who just reads for their homework assignments and summer reading. The type of reader I’m talking about is the one who reads every night, every day, and a great deal every week. To be even a decent creative writer you have to be an avid reader with an insatiable appetite. It is the works of others that informs you on how to do your work. The greatest authors can typically give the greatest of lessons on writing within their books. Yet, you have to retain originality throughout your writing. There’s room for nothing but creativity in creative writing.

Striking the balance between inspiration and pure creativity is actually quite simple once you get the hang of it. The key, that I’ve learned at least, is to never stop consuming stories. Though I did extol the virtues of being a voracious reader when you’re writing, the truth is that the more stories you read, hear, watch, act, and participate in, the better you’ll be at creating a story yourself. To begin with, and to return to my earlier point, I couldn’t be the writer I am today if I didn’t read a whole lot of books. Whether its fiction or nonfiction, the more books I’ve read, the more I’ve not only come to understand what good writing looks like but also this world and humanity as a whole. I’ve mentioned in the past that certain books have inspired the story I’m writing in a very direct fashion. The truth is that everything I’ve ever read influences and inspires how I write. All of the good books and more than enough of the bad are my guides to how to write. Beyond what I’ve mentioned, here’s an article on why reading to write matters.

I’ve found that it’s not only literature that makes me a better storyteller however, because many of the TV shows I watch (and there are plenty of them) and movies that I have seen (they number close to a thousand), also inform the way I craft a world. The influence of film upon my writing can be witnessed through many parts of the world I’ve created. I may write about a certain dusty, outlaw-sort-of town that was brought to mind by many of the westerns I’ve ever seen, in conjunction with maybe one or two TV shows as well. I may write a character whilst envisioning them to look and act like a certain character from Game of Thrones.

The truth is that this world and the people that live in it are all pretty similar, and when writing, it’s perfectly OK to take inspiration from the way something or someone looks or acts in another piece of fiction. Though it’s wildly inaccurate to say that each and every human being always acts the same, it’s true that similar people act the same ways in similar circumstances. As a creative writer, it’s my job to put twists on those people and circumstances while keeping a grip on the realities of humanity, and consuming other stories helps me do both of these things.

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3 thoughts on “Stories Create Stories

  1. dexcoengilbert

    I know you said before that you were inspired by books similar to “The Dog Stars” and “The Name of the Wind.” Is there anything in your book that was inspired specifically by characters or places in either of these books?

  2. ainsleybruton

    One of the most interesting things for me about reading your blog posts every week is seeing the similarities between our processes (even though you are working with words, and I with paint). I love that you’re talking about how important it is to read as a writer, because I feel like a lot of people forget how essential it is, just like some young artists overlook how important it is to be visiting museums and looking at the work of others.

  3. margaretjhaviland

    Interesting that you Ainsley and Aidan are all having similar thoughts and processes. You each draw from the work of “masters” and others in your fields. Your works are inspired by and influenced by how you react to, reject, warm to and otherwise consider the work of others. Too often a criticism of a person’s work is that it is derivative. Perhaps this is what happens when there isn’t enough creativity involved. But you are correct in thinking about the meta stories, such as the hero’s story or perhaps the revenge story.

    I would be curious on your thoughts on what limits you might have (or not) in creating and understanding your characters within your stories,


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