Tuesday, July 16th, 2019

Story Radar

Here’s another jewel I picked up from Peter H. Reynolds’ workshop last summer:  “Story Radar.”  This is a term Peter uses for the technique of always being on the alert for ideas and inspiration.   An expression, a character, an event, a question, an image – anything can ‘wave’ to you on any given day as an idea for a story, one that can then be filed away in your “Books Not Yet in Print” folder.  Peter has incredible story radar. I can’t tell you how many times in class he said, “…And that’s a great idea for a story!”   He also said that when the idea comes from someone else, he says (good-naturedly, of course), “I’ll give you one year to run with that idea, and after that it’s mine!”

Here’s a question: can we fine tune, or improve the frequency of, our Story Radar?  I think the answer is yes, but it has to do with whether we’ve got ours pointed in the right direction, first of all, as well as how regularly we tune into it, and the degree to which we are able to tune out other, non-useful input.  Like any fine instrument, the more one uses it, and the better one cares for it, the more likely it is to hold its tune.  Let it sit there and collect dust, or be subject to interference, and it’s unlikely to work as well.

Any other ideas out there about ways to fine-tune our Story Radar?


7 Responses to “Story Radar”
  1. Beth says:

    This is excellent, Emma!

    I’ve always been the sort of person who sits back and observes and listens to the people around me, rather than being a completely active participant in conversations involving more than 2 or 3 people. I’ve been chided for being quiet or shy, but while I’ve been sitting back listening, I have learned so much about people, the way they think and speak and act, which then gets sifted through my thought processes and comes out in the way characters express themselves.

    So for those to whom this doesn’t come naturally, the less shy and guarded among us, it could be a good exercise to just sit in conversations and not feel the need to jump in to the discussion, but rather to sit back, watch and listen. There’s a lot to be learned in concentrated silence!

  2. Patricia T. says:

    Missed your recent posts, so am catching up. I was just introduced to Peter Reynolds, recently and his new book “I’m Here.” Am running a review soon. So, I was so delighted to see you share his workshops. Liked his comments about radar. Like Beth, my radar is engaged much of the time. Think it’s part of my training as a journalist. It was drummed into me by one very good professor who opened my eyes. It’s also natural for me too — I see the possibility of a story in many things. Hope you think about interviewing Peter on the Hub. Would like to hear him. I certainly enjoyed his new book, so simple, but powerful.

  3. Diane says:

    I am also catching up Pat.
    I am very much an observer. I have been encouraged to do things I never thought I would do this past year, which I am grateful for, but I am usually the quiet observer who notices. (just need to remember to have a pen with me)

  4. Sandie Sing says:

    Great share, Emma!
    I never thought about calling it a “story radar” the way Peter Reynolds does. Definitely, I will share this with my writing friends. Thank you.

  5. Lori says:

    Much appreciated share, Emma!

    Like any of our other senses and skills, hone them and they shine.
    Peter is simply brilliant.

  6. I like the “story radar” idea. I think it’s always useful to hone the various writing skills needed to help with the creative work. Will have to turn my radar onto high for November.

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