Tag Archives: story

What is the most challenging part of a story to write?

What is the most challenging part of a story to write?

The beginning in the beginning

When you first start writing, the easiest part is the beginning, or at least it’s what you think. Words flow so quickly that you feel you have a gift, and maybe you actually have. The issue is, when you let someone (not your mom and dad) read it, most of the time, they do THAT face.

Which face?

You know what face I’m speaking about, the lost look. Why is that? You start wondering if the story has a sense at all, and then you start questioning everything, even the editor trying to help you. The only solution is to take a step back and re-read everything, following the advice of the experts.

Beginners

So, I answered the first question, I think. The most challenging part of a story to write is the beginning when you are a beginner. The first line is so difficult to write that it takes 25% of my time, even nowadays. That line presents your book to the reader, and nothing will change that. The reader will understand your style and what the story is about just by reading that first line.

Now, I went to a book presentation a few days ago. Friendly atmosphere, cool people. Then, I bought a book copy and sat waiting for the discussion to start. I arrived there without preconceptions, open to discovering a lovely book and a new author.

Then, I opened the first page

The book was well-edited; no problem with that. I focused on the first line. Horrible, simply horrible. I closed my eyes, breathed and I tried again. Nope, still horrific. A nightmare for anyone who had ever written something, that first line told me, “run from this place”. Still, I tried my best not to run. I thought, “maybe I’m wrong; let’s give her another chance”. 

And I did

The most useless hour I ever spent, believe me. The writer and the other two presenters started speaking about how skilled the author is. Also, they couldn’t avoid talking about how magic was the love story (apparently, if there’s no love story, there’s no book, they said) and other incredibly dull things.

What did I discover?

I discovered that you need to read many good books, but even more bad first lines, too. First, a bad first line wants to tell you something clever but doesn’t show you anything. Something like “George was walking in a garden full of roses, the smell of the paradise and the colour of passion”. After a while, you will understand how important the first line is. Phew.

If you’re still asking yourself what is the most challenging part of a story to write, here’s the answer, then. This doesn’t mean it’s always the most difficult part. In the example of the bad start, the author forgot to mention something important, questions. Questions are something you cannot forget when you’re writing anything. Questions bring answers, and answers get other questions. 

Show, don’t tell

Show, don't tell, graphic by Daniele Frau.
Show, don’t tell.

In an excellent short video by Film Courage, Glenn Gers gives the six questions that you never have to forget when writing fiction.

  1. What this story is about?
  2. What is that they want?
  3. Why they cannot get it?
  4. What do they do about that?
  5. Why it doesn’t work?
  6. How does it end?

These macro questions lead to many others in something similar to fractals or the famous snowflake method

What is this story about? A man in his forties that never left his room. 

Why did he never leave his room? Where does he live? Does he live alone? How is it possible that he never left his room? How big is his room?

And so on, you got my point.

Let’s continue to speak about it in the following article!

In the meantime, have a look at my stories on Flyingstories.org.

Read, write, explore!

Daniele Frau

The Ozarks

The importance of writing well

A few people don’t know The Ozark. I started watching this successful series and asked myself what the secret behind that was.

Why was I so drawn into it, and why were the characters in Ozark so engaging?

Then, I watched the interviews with the cast, and there wasn’t a single one that didn’t mention the quality of the screenwriting.

I quote one of the actors:

“Thanks to Bill, I was able to explore my character. I knew perfectly well what I had to do, how I had to interpret my character.”

So, how important is the writing?

Fundamental

Writing is essential for the actors to be more confident in acting their roles and it is critical for the audience to be completely engaged in the fiction world prepared for them.

How many times have we spoken about the importance of reading?

The importance of reading.
The importance of reading.

So many times, I lost the count.

It’s not just about reading, but it’s mainly about understanding more about the world surrounding us and shaping it through reading. Writing has to come naturally, as a form of expressing what it would need too much time to tell by simple words.

 Every time I start writing, I don’t enter another dimension, but I remain silent and hear my thoughts flowing. Someone uses some techniques to relax, but I try to focus on techniques only when creating good characters

I study every day how to improve my writing, make it more or less dense, raise the hairbows of the audience in curiosity, and create something really, genuinely original.

Go back to the future, story by Daniele Frau.

But then, as every writer would say, you need to read, you need to experience, and you need to write. If you read and experience, but you don’t write, your hands get rusty after a while, and you start overthinking.

Remember when I told you I don’t go to another dimension while writing? 

I lied.

Yes, of course, I go to another dimension, I hear my thoughts and I have to work on them to express my ideas. However, I have to come back to my steps and make that inner voice sound more natural, engaging and understandable.

So, thanks to The Ozarks, for reminding one again how important is good writing. To remind me that what I do every day has a significant impact.

On society and customs

Society isn’t an abstract concept. On the contrary, society is way more concrete than we think. Every choice we make, even the one we believe to be totally irrelevant for the rest of the world, has an impact. The way we speak to our friends, our family, to ourselves.

Change the rules


Society dictates the rules we follow and we can bend those rules, but we cannot change them radically, not in the fraction of time which is our life. That doesn’t mean our choices are useless, irrelevant, or destined to fail.

However, we don’t have to get frustrated if we see society struggling to follow what we think it’s correct, understanding what is right. From a fractal perspective, society can probably be described as a bigger, more complex version of ourselves. In the middle, there are smaller societies, as our churches, our clubs (any clubs, not just the one with kayaks or golf sticks), even our families. Our believes, our standards, comes in and we can take them or reject them.

Beard or skirt?

The main difference between us and society is then the time we take to reach innovation.


I recently wrote a story about a new law in Italy that intends to get a harder punishment for those who discriminate against others with homophobic intentions. I didn’t want to give a lesson but create a story offering a different perspective on the matter.


Imagine if women had a beard and men dressed as women, with their legs properly shaved. Imagine now the politicians defending men dressing in a skirt, as “we always did”.

If we do something for a long time, it doesn’t automatically mean it’s the right thing to do. Keep in mind that, as absurd it would seem to you, I didn’t invent anything.

Most of the speeches you’ll read in the story, Skirt or beard, are actual speeches from real politicians.

Nodo, the Chairs’ mover

A new Project

Writing a story it’s always intimidating. You start asking yourself:

With all the material around on the Internet nowadays, how can I make a difference? What is in my story that makes it so original?


Then, all of a sudden, a character knock at your door. In this case, it was a small man with a big nose. He introduced himself. He was a chairs’ mover.

Yes, he said precisely that name!


We sit down, and while I started writing on my computer, he moved the first chair.


Sorry


He said.


But you could see from his face that he wasn’t sorry at all. He enjoyed moving the chair and startled me. But what do you expect when letting in a chairs’ mover?

Where a character comes from?

Nodo, the chairs' mover
Nodo, the chairs’ mover


This character, as many others, comes from everyday life. Who has never heard a chair moving in their apartment when they’re alone? Yes, there is an explanation, and it’s our small friend.


In general, what I like about writing for children is that they thoroughly enjoy the story. They get engaged and laugh, and cry sometimes. That’s why, in the end, I decided to write this story. To have a chance to make a child smile.


Enjoy more about the story of Nodo the chairs’ mover on my blog Flyingstories.org.

If you want to read the book, request your copy at this link!

Cover of the book Nodo the chairs' mover_by Daniele Frau_Illustrations by DMQproductions.
Cover of the book Nodo the chairs’ mover_by Daniele Frau.


And keep always open the door to a new character!

Go back to the future

Where the story comes from

Now that I’m falling from the clouds, only now I fully understand the essence of the air.


When I first started writing this short story, Go back to the future, the situation was really complicated, to say the least. In Italy, a substantial majority considered the refugees a problem that had to be ‘eradicated’. Yes, like it was a virus or a plague (just saying). Where that majority ended up? Oh, they never left, if that’s what you’re thinking. They just changed their clothes.

The Italian politics


If you watch the Italian political scene from three-step behind, you’d probably think something changed. Then you get one step forward to find out the stink of the same old propaganda.


When you speak to people in the street, you can sense that that propaganda, the ‘eradication’ of the ‘problem’ propaganda, is still alive and well.

Masks for go back to the future
Daniele Frau


“Why we’re supposed to help them when we cannot help ourselves?”


“Do you know they’re living a better life than us?”


“Do you still believe they’re poor? Come on, open your eyes!”


And the war between the poor continues, over and over


What my story had to say about that?


I simply gave another perspective. Imagine a near future (100 years from now, perhaps) and imagine a striking crisis that leads your country in despair.


Now, follow me, imagine a time-machine like the one in a H.G. Wells book or in the comedy movie Back to the future. Everyone will try to escape their helpless situation coming to our present. And what will happen? We will call them ‘aliens,’ and we will look at them while they’re drowning in front of us.

As we’re watching them dying in front of the cost of Italy every single day.

(It continues…)

What is fear?

What is fear?

Sometimes we find ourselves alone at home, ready to go to bed. We brush our teeth, we put on the pajama and finally, we get under our sheets.

Then, a small sound comes to our ears. Somewhere, outside the door, something or someone is moving. 

“Rrrrrrrrrrrr.”

What is that?

Who is there?

Terrorized, petrified even, we don’t dare to go outside. When we finally do, we switch on the light, as our small 7W bulb could help us against a possible assassin. Yet, we feel reassured by this light because we’re not expecting real killers, but some ghosts with long chains. And we know they must disappear with the light (yes, ghosts hates 7W bulbs).

Glovy and Nodo

Glovy the twigs' snapper
Glovy the twigs’ snapper

That’s why I imagined a world in which all these sounds have a funny reason behind. As Nodo and Glovy, some small characters are ready to scare us, but without harming anyone.

In my concept, children will be scared, but at the same time, those characters will reassure them. They won’t need the light anymore, because Nodo and friends can hide in plain light. They can respect their fears and even smile at them.

The horrific hanger

When I was a child, I was terrified by a clothes hanger my parents had in their room. It was a simple hanger, but in the night, it mutates into a monster. It comes in my nightmares, preventing me from using the toilet in the night and generally stressing out me so much.

Something happened one day when I decided to imagine that hanger-monster as a funny thing. I imagined it was a fluffy gummy character, yellow in color, with no bad intentions whatsoever. It was from that moment on that I can say I didn’t fear the dark anymore.

See, the problem is not dark or a clothes hanger. The issue comes from deeper inside us, as Goya would say, 

“The sleep of reason creates monster”. 

In the silence, it’s in the dark that we feel strange sounds, and it’s there that we panic. On a sunny day, outside with our friend, it’s more likely to happen something terrible (some drunk person starts shouting, someone insults you, a car bumped on you) and still, you feel protected by the amazing sun and the good feelings you have.

So, let go of that horrific sleep of reason that creates monsters and start searching for a better explanation. Fear, a moment later, it’s just a bad memory.

Thanks to Nodo and Glovy, it would probably be like that for some children, one day.

Writers from Sardinia?

How big is this island?

Every day I meet people from all over the world (yes, even now that we’re living in Covid-19times). The question that people ask me more often is:

How comes you have your own language in Sardinia?

Yes, believe me, this question has been asked so many times that if they gave me 1 penny for each time I heard it… well, you know Bill Gates? He would be just a poor guy selling shoes if compared to me.

A complex island

The answer is yes, obviously. Sardinia has its own language, an history so complex and different from the Italian one, not to mention it is enormous. I mean it, it’s huge. When I think that the most famous nations-islands in the Mediterranian Sea, as Cyprus or Malta are respectively 9251 square km and 316 square km, I think it makes sense that we have a peculiar language in Sardinia (which is over 24 thousand square km). This idiom is called Sardo, or Sardinian.

Sardinian writers Daniele Frau graphics

I’m not going through with the history of Sardinia and its language. There’s so much literature about it that it would take my entire blog just to start the topic. Let’s summarise what Sardinian produced culturally in the last 100 years or so.

The star

Let’s start with the star: Grazia Deledda. She was born in 1871, and in 1926 this amazing woman received a Nobel Prize for literature. If this information doesn’t shock you, think about the fact that at the time she was only the second woman ever winning the prize. Furthermore, she was the first Italian woman in history to receive it. Interesting, huh?

Many others

You can quickly check the incredible number of writers Sardinia produced over the centuries. They spoke about what being a shepherd means, or to serve in the countryside since you’re just a child. They also wrote about the First World War, and more recently, with Accabbadora by Michela Murgia, you can jump in the reality of Sardinia in the Fifties.

Furthermore, these fantastic writers wrote in Italian, considered for a long time a second language in Sardinia. When I was a child (not so long ago), it was easy to meet old people speaking broken Italian, but fluent when they had to talk in Sardinian. Even though Sardinian was considered illegal to be used in schools for a long time, it was still used in everyday life. Nowadays, Sardinian is coming back to life, thanks to the hard work of many historians, linguists, and intellectuals.

What it means to come from an island?

As everything else, being from a fantastic island as Sardinia brings positive and negative outcomes. One of the negative ones is to be isolated from everything and culturally marginalized. The percentage of Sardinian with a university instruction level is one of the lowest in Italy, and with the crisis, the situation would only get worse.

That said, I hope next time you’ll hear in Sardinia they have their own language you won’t ask the same, one- penny, question.

Which stories Daniele Frau wrote? Have a look!

Reedsy

What is Reedsy

A few months ago I was surfing on the ocean of the Internet, lost somewhere between the Island of

“How to improve my writing”

and the Archipelagos of

“Writing contests”.

The discovery

Then, by chance, I entered in a blog called Reedsy.

“Nothing special”

I thought before taking a better look at it.
I started reading and after hours I didn’t finish half of the material inside this website. From daily writing courses to weekly contests, everything seemed to be everything I always dreamed about. And everything with that special human touch that lets you forget for a moment to be on a website.

A sacred place

I felt like I was in a sacred place, a safe place in which you can express yourself, study, read and ask other experts for help. I stopped surfing in the Ocean of the Internet and I started to swim lightly in this small sea. The water was warm, but not hot enough to make you feel dizzy. It was refreshing and it gave me the strength to start my writing with a renovate energy.

My first short story

Last week I sent my first short story to the website. It’s not my first story, since I have my stories published on my Flyingstories website. But if usually I decide the theme of my stories, this time I had to follow a path, and it wasn’t easy.

“Write about two strangers that keep meeting each other”

This was the prompt.

And for me, accustomed to write mostly fantastic stories, it wasn’t really an easy task.

A story about a shepherd

So I sent Reedsy a simple story about a shepherd of camels. It comes from my experience living in Dubai and the chats I had with hundreds of taxi drivers all around the city. Sometimes you forget to be in a big city, when you turn your head to the desert and meet “wild” camels around.
I decided then to write a story about a man lost in the desert, a man that doesn’t feel human anymore, but more one of the animals he’s trying to help grow. A lost man in a period of pandemic, when everyone feels lost for a reason or another.

A way out

And he finds himself a way out.
As we, every one of us, is supposed to do.
Thanks Reedsy for the opportunity of discovering a story, hidden somewhere inside myself.

 

Flyingstories

Flyingstories

My new project

FlyingstoriesSeagulls in Dubai, Flyingstories

https://youtu.be/kY4FfefQygY

Every now and then I was thinking if it was right to put new stuff on this big ocean called Internet. With flyingstories I decided not to put anything else if not some stories from our travels around the world, some languages courses and some stories coming straight from my fantasy. What else? Just have a look!