Writing a Good Story Is Like Building a Tower of Lies
by Vincent Mars
Writers don’t build towers of stone – they are adventurers afraid of heights. They build towers of lies, to inspire those building towers of stone to build faster and build better, or to help those who lack the materials or the skills to build towers of stone to get an idea of how it feels to own one and live in it.
Good stories are high towers of lies, but they don’t crumble, because they are built on a rock-solid foundation of sober truths. Being below ground, the foundation cannot be seen, unless you look at the tower’s building plans – the author’s biography.
Identifying a truth you’ve discovered that is worth sharing with the world – often a tiny, personal truth, because everyone knows the big truths already – is a struggle with yourself that sometimes takes decades.
But a truth worth sharing with the world, one that maybe only you have discovered, is always there somewhere inside you, I think usually halfway between the heart and the brain.
When I started writing about two years ago I built towers of lies and they collapsed with the first wind, that is, the first time I reread them. Then I began to search for a truth that was worth sharing, something that would make for a strong foundation for all those lies I wanted to pile up high.
It took me some time but I think I found him, in the attic of my memory: Oliver Colors, the moonbeamed painter.
I made friends with Oliver and discovered in him the twin I had lost a long time ago. He was confused with our meeting, just like me, but he welcomed me into his attic. And there, in a shadowy corner, not far from his easel, I saw a great pile of stones.
‘These stones are most peculiar,’ he said, ‘they’ve always been here, but I don’t know what purpose they serve.’
I asked him to give them to me, and he said yes, provided that I will do my best to make him immortal, because that was what he most wanted. I agreed.
And I began building a new tower. And howling winds came – rereadings, rewrites, edits – and my tower did not collapse. And I’m still raising it. And soon it will tickle the clouds.
And later this year, when I will finish building it, I will give you the address so you can come see the wonder, and live in it for a while.
Do you want to visit my tower once it is ready?
(This is a republished post.)