February 15, 2018
My Grandma Always Says…
The graveyard is full of indispensable men.
Writers worth their ink need to be making some point with their story. By that, I mean your tale ought not be solely just a boy-meets-loses-regains-girl trip.
Beneath your storyline, there should be something else going on, a deeper message, your comment on how humanity works, or doesn’t. It is a writer’s (or artist’s) job to present the human condition as they interpret it. It isn’t meant to be heavy and scary, I’m simply suggesting that once you’ve written your story, or even just have an idea for one, you should sit back and consider what it could be saying on a larger, universal scale.
A good way to understand this concept is to consider Aesop’s Fables. Each one is a tale that could be enjoyed on a superficial level by a child, yet there is a deeper meaning, or moral, which endeavors to teach the child some universal truth about life, ie being slow yet determined is often better than being hasty and fickle (Tortoise and the Hare).
A good place to seek inspiration is a list of proverbs. A proverb is usually a metaphor and encapsulates in simple terms, a lesson from the common experience of humanity. Here’s an exercise that might get you going: sit down and have a think about the specific meaning of the following and then go freewrite a story illustrating this philosophy.
You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.
A little learning is a dangerous thing.
The belly has no ears.
Trees don’t grow to the sky.
A dumb priest never got a parish.
The only free cheese is in the mousetrap.
Eaten bread is soon forgotten.
The squeaky door gets the oil.
From Ireland, Sue Healy is Literary Manager at the Finborough Theatre, London, a full-time Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Lincoln. Her book on theatre literary management is published by Routledge, December 2022.
Sue is an award-winning writer for stage, TV, and prose writer.
Her current project, a 6x60minute TV series, is under option. She is under commission with Lone Wolf Media, producers behind PBS’ “Mercy Street”, to co-write the pilot and treatment for a six-part TV series.
Her most recent stage-play, Imaginationship (2018), enjoyed a sold out, extended run at the Finborough and later showed at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough. Her previous stage productions include Cow (Etcetera Theatre, 2017) and Brazen (King’s Head Theatre, 2016), funded by Arts Council England. Sue’s short plays have been performed at the Criterion (Criterion New Writing Showcase), Arcola (The Miniaturists) and Hackney Attic (Fizzy Sherbet Shorts).
Her radio work includes nine plays broadcast on BBC Radio 4 (Opening Lines winner), WLRfm and KCLR96fm.
Sue has won The Molly Keane Award, HISSAC Prize, Escalator Award, Meridian Prize and has been published in nine literary journals and anthologies including: The Moth, Flight, Tainted Innocence, New Writer, Duality, HISSAC, New European Writers. She has been writer-in-residence on Inis Oírr, Aran Islands, and at the Heinrich Boll Cottage on Achill Island. She has also benefitted from annual artist residencies at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, and at Ginestrelle, Assisi in Italy.
An academic with a PhD in modern theatre history, specifically the Royal Court Theatre, Sue has presented her research internationally. She spent eleven years in Budapest, editing Hungary A.M. She has a PhD in modern theatre history (Royal Court Theatre) and is a UEA Creative Writing MA alumnus.
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March 2nd, 2013 at 15:28
A great tip for writers searching for their theme.
March 2nd, 2013 at 17:44
Very nice. Sometimes the simplest posts are the best. (A modern day proverb.)
I had not heard the one about a tree not growing to the sky. I like it and will post on it soon, I think. My problem is usually too many ideas, not too few! Thanks for the pearls of wisdom.
March 2nd, 2013 at 23:00
[…] My Grandma Always Says…. […]
March 2nd, 2013 at 23:18
I totally agree, and I love the proverbs you shared…great idea to use them as inspiration, thanks:-)
March 3rd, 2013 at 00:47
Gotta love grandma! Thank you.
March 5th, 2013 at 07:16
I love that top photo, Sue, with the misty landscape. Gorgeous.
March 5th, 2013 at 14:23
Thanks for sharing your tips for writers. I enjoy your posts and I teach writing.
March 6th, 2013 at 04:50
Thanks for sharing those proverbs! Definitely sparked a few ideas in my head.