Automatic Writing Workshop: “Strangers.”

This entry and experiment in storytelling was a part of a series of stories I produced in a self-driven workshop called “30 Days and 30 Stories.” Each day I would produce a short screenplay, story, essay, or prose piece. This was originally composed on November 20th, 2011. I would often preface these workshop pieces with what thoughts were going on in my mind at the time of composition.

Recently, I read the book Architecture of a Novel by Jane Vandenburgh.  The essential argument Vandeburgh put forward for storytellers was to let the story drive itself forward – then to reshape it once you have a clear idea of what you’ve produced.

This was not the first time I’d heard this argument put forward.  I have often heard wonderful things about a story seeming to have a will of it’s own as it floods forth on the page as if from some other place.  Personally, this has been in stark contrast to the way I work.

My method in the past has been very structured.  I usually begin by posing questions to myself.  My philosophy has essentially been that writing is the meticulous process of solving a never-ending series of tiny problems.  The essential problem of plot always being “what happens next?”

This method has worked for me in the past, but after having consistently observed that the stories never surprised me enough, I’ve decided to expand into new experiments.  I’ve decided to seek out that strange phenomenon wherein somewhere, inside or outside of yourself, a story exists and you the storyteller are the means by which it must be told.  Turning yourself, briefly, into an instrument which withholds it’s judgement and proceeds ever more boldly ahead into the unknown, refusing to look back until the end.

Despite personal philosophical convictions that run in possible contrast to this methodology the results have been startling.  First in their coherence, secondly in my own enjoyment of this free flowing process.

The first result of this experiment, and one of the driving reasons I decided to take on this thirty day challenge came about in a two hour “storyteller’s dream state” when I wrote the following piece: “Strangers.”

Take a look, and if you have any comments, feedback, or thoughts of any-kind to share – I welcome them with open arms!  Thank you!

-Travis

Read: Strangers.