Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Stories Moving Forward

I've been creating stories all my life. Since I was a child really.

At 11 or 12 I had two of those old Radio Shack single cassette players and I would write scripts for plays or stories and then, going line by line, I would record them by first speaking one line into one tape player then, stop, press record on the second while pressing play on the first, and then adding the next line of dialogue after the first tape played. And so on and so on for the entire length of the story. I'd do all the voices and all the narration. Even feeble attempts at singing improv theme songs on occasion. lol  :)

Now, all these years later I found myself really feeling ready to create a book of short stories, or at least several small zines, that are centered around the worlds I have built thru and alongside my Etsy creations the last 6 years.

The Bewildering Pine
The Ledgerkeepers
Kitsurada: Land of Foxgoyles
The Troll Troubles
And many more

But as an adult, there are new challenges. Mostly an uncontrollable tendency towards self editing and doubt. Uncertainty about how to build a complete world because, after all, I am not 11 and I see the holes where they should be and what I have YET to create to make these stories work.

So how to get started?

Well, 10 days ago I began searching for that help.

It came in the unexpected form of a 30 day writing primer called the Fantasy WorldBuilder Guide. Thirty short exercises to help you start to flesh out and think about those things that make a "world" complete. Everything from climate and political atmosphere to, of course, the map, timeline of historical events, the people, the languages etc etc. Now I have seen these in one form or another before but none felt as helpful as this. In part, it helped me realize I HAVE thought of much of this but, the truth is, I am ready now and committing to the 15-30 minutes a day to do the work.

And the guide has sent me off in research directions I never would have thought of due to the links, ideas and great summaries about each section/exercise.I can't explain why but I recognize the difference in this guide is that it really allows you a range of investment. 15 minutes is all they ask and it's fine if that's what you want to spare but, if you are game, it is easy to se how an hour or more each day can be spent deepening the daily ideas on your own.

I have, I would say, doubled my world's depth in the first 10 days this way.

What the old world language is, what the trade and commerce and resources of the world are, how exactly my world's magic works, what the major conflicts have been (and I have to say, I am intent on writing a non-violent story/stories, so, that came with it's own interesting challenges!)

Best of all, the pieces I already had have started falling into place. The map being further and further fleshed out. The characters and types of creatures and myths. . . it's been truly exhilarating thus far.

20 days to go.

After that I will get back to the start again and go thru it once more, for 30 more days, and expand it all some more. I have plans for a large wall sized timeline/map/storyline to begin to be able to visually, in one place, see it all. And then,of course, time to start filling in the stories.

At this point, I am partial to a first book of short tales, sort of like Shaun Tan's "Tales From Outer Suburbia."  and I know that the last tale will be either the lead in to a second book of shorts or, the basis for a larger novella to follow. It is, If I can say so myself, a very good "hook". :)

Many of you know I am completely invested in the idea that stories are what creates demand for what we produce. Be it organic produce, fairy houses, quilts, handmade books,  masks, jewelry, etc etc. And we ALL tell our own tales our own way so I never think anyone should follow my lead if it isn't their thing. . . but I would also recommend a perusal through Austin Kleon's newest book, "Show Your Work" , where he says,

"Artists love to trot out the tired line, “My work speaks for itself,” but the truth is, our work doesn’t speak for itself. Human beings want to know where things came from, how they were made, and who made them. The stories you tell about the work you do have a huge effect on how people feel and what they understand about your work, and how people feel and what they understand about your work effects how they value it.

You should be able to explain your work to a kindergartner, a senior citizen, and everybody in between. Everybody loves a good story, but good storytelling doesn’t come easy to everybody. It’s a skill that takes a lifetime to master. So study the great stories and then go find some of your own. Your stories will get better the more you tell them."
I, of course, agree totally with this as I feel my stories are as much a part of my ability to make living as a maker-of-things as anything else. Second only to never being satisfied with "good enough" and going all out in every way I can to make the buying experience wonderful for the recipient. 
So maybe that is what has held me back in writing these new, larger stories. It's a total package for me and I do not think I believed I had any idea how to create that complete world with just stories and illustrations.  Or perhaps it was just that I couldn't find the start line among all the floating pieces? 
Well, the 30 day exercise certainly changed that so I want to recommend it to anyone who has any sort of  make believe/fictional world you want to enrich and any stories you want to tell. You can find the exercise and thru it, many wonderful links to other great resources, here:
And to close, just a little peek into two new pieces for you all today too!
Happy day to everyone and I hope the magik of Spring (or Autumn if you are down under) is shining brightly in your world and in your hearts!
Another colorful version of what has become quite the popular item. And the flowers just keep getting more out of hand! :) 

A blue-roofed Enchanted Tower seemed a nice change of pace. I want to play with different roof colors this summer.


  1. I am so happy for you Nicolas! Good for you! I think this is brilliant! I can't wait to read your stories! Love your latest two creations! Hugs!

    1. Thank you Stacy! I'll be very excited to share them as they come to be. :)

  2. I am so thrilled to read this. That you are going to be writing..... because Nicolas you have such a way with words, you pull in the reader with a force. And it's wonderful to have that magnetism. Even better to put it to use and share it, like you do here also. I love that you are writing more blog posts! :D I am happy to catch up with them as just got my computer back after 8 days of not having one...... x

    1. ohhhh sometimes I think a week away from computers would be HEAVEN! as long as it is by choice. lol Louise, I am looking forward to sharing the stories as the come thru. :) Thank you for your kind words and for your support!

    2. Yes it was bliss, bed by 7:30 with a book and up at 6 bright eyed. I'll get a black cloth and throw it over the computer now and then, I think. I love your work!

  3. Great, sounds like you really had quite a breakthrough! I love it when things just make sense creatively all of a sudden. And now i can't wait to see what you will come up with. I feel like i could really use that tool also when i finally get around to creating my island story....i think i enjoyed coming up with the maps and family trees for the stories that i have written, almost as much or more than the writing of the stories themselves. Have fun!

    1. Andrea I think of your story every day when I am writing it and I wonder what impact the daily exercises would have on your world. :) But I agree, would love to just sit and make up maps and fun things in my head without all the backstory and written details. . . but this time I feel compelled to see it through and bring the entire world to life. : ) Thank you for your lovely comment!