Getting Started

Once upon a time—what a magical phrase. It offers an irresistible invitation: Settle back and listen. I'm going to tell you a story.

Few pleasures are as basic and satisfying as hearing a good story—unless it's the pleasure of writing one.

The concept of stories must have been invented as soon as human whoops and squeals turned into language. Stories have been found recorded on papyrus from ancient Egypt and in the fragments of documents that were compiled to become the Judeo-Christian Scriptures. It's possible that the smudgy cave paintings of prehistoric eras were made to illustrate tales told around cooking fires about the trials and tribulations of the season's hunt. Civilizations around the globe have used stories to preserve history define heroes, and explain the caprices of the gods. The impulse to tell stories is no less strong today.

Writers write for two reasons. One is that they have something they want to say. The other, equally compelling motive is that they have something they want to find out. Writing is a mode of exploration. Through stories we can examine and come to terms with our own ideas, insights, and experiences. In the process of writing a story, we achieve a little better understanding of our world, our fellows, and ourselves. When someone reads what we write, we can share a bit of that understanding.

What's more, writing a story can be great fun.

So sharpen your pencils or fire up your computer, and let's get started.

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