Carousel Guests

FINDING A STORY – a guest post by Catherine Brophy

Catherine BrophyWe are delighted with the news that our dear friend Catherine Brophy has recently published her third novel.  Catherine has led a number of ‘Storytelling’ workshops at Carousel Creates Writers’ Retreats and always brings out the best in our writers.

‘Burning Bright’ is set in the years of the Celtic tiger. It’s told in the voice of the Kerrigan family members and friends.
It’s funny, it’s believable and it will definitely make you laugh. 

We’ll tell you more about the book in a bit, but we wanted to ask our story-teller extrodinaire how she goes about  Finding a Story. So, over to Catherine…

“ Where do you get your ideas?”  they ask.
The short answer is everywhere.   Keep your eyes, ears and especially your mind open and stories appear. But one of the richest sources is your own life.

“But my life is dull and ordinary.” you cry.
So is mine.   But that doesn’t mean you have no stories to tell. You have experienced emotions, haven’t you?   Explore them and you will find plenty of stories because every good story has an emotional heart.

Try this:

1. Jot down a list of emotions – as many as you can think of.

2. Review the list and note which one seems to call you.
The first thought is usually right.
OR the one that keeps coming back.

3. Scan through times in your life when you felt that emotion.

4. Choose the incident that seems to call loudest.
The first thought is usually right.
It doesn’t have to be a big.   It doesn’t have to be dramatic.   It can something small and silly.

5.  Jot down the bones of the incident.

6. Now write it again.   But this time write it in the first person and the present tense, as though it were happening now.

e.g. “I am fourteen.  I lean out the window to catch a glimpse of Mickey Gallagher.  I see him leave his house.   He is tall and handsome.   I rush downstairs, and out the front door. I want to bump into him accidentally on purpose…”

Include everything you remember, sights, sounds, smells, tastes, sensations, feelings.

7. Notice how the incident begins to expand as you write it.   Don’t edit it, don’t try to shape it just yet, don’t limit it in any way.  This part is research, this is gathering information.   Get everything down.

8. Leave it for a day or two.

9. Remind yourself once again of the emotion that sits at the heart of your story, the place where it started. Once you have that clear in your head it will dictate how you write, the language you use, how you phrase things, the dialogue, the pace.

10. Re-write the incident. This time choose how you want to write it :
In the first person as yourself?
In the first person as a character?
In the third person?

11. Be sure to include description, action, dialogue and emotion.

12.  This is fiction. You don’t have to stick to the literal facts.  You can add things, shape the sequence, change the ending, include other characters.   It’s your story, you can do what you like.

13. But one thing you MUST do.  You MUST be true to the EMOTIONAL HEART.

14. Edit and re-write your story untill you feel it’s ready for public consumption.
When people try this they are often surprised.
How can a tiny, insignificant incident grow into a proper story?
Here’s the magic formula: Emotion + memory + imagination = Creativity

All you have to do is to trust it.  

Burning bright

Catherine Brophy is a writer, story-teller and broadcaster. She has written for film, television and radio and published several shorts stories and two previous novels. ‘The Liberation of Margaret Mc Cabe’ and ‘Dark Paradise’. She lives the life of a nun near Dublin but during her many travels she’s been rescued by a circus troupe in Serbia, had breakfast with Zambian chief, ate camel stew in the Sahara, and was kicked by a horse on the Mexican plains.

Catherine’s book is available on Amazon on Kindle and in paper back
Her website is  and you can follow her on Twitter @catherinewrites



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s