What Is Your Story?

Take Me Back to the Beginning

As you’ve probably seen and noticed in the last few years, the classic Origin Story has been appearing even more so in books, tv shows, films, and in our culture as a whole. The origin of a character or reality is the foundation of any and all stories; even origins themselves can become a character. And ever since 2020, it seems as if the whole world has lost its sense of what normalcy feels like; it has changed how we interact and share stories with one another. We are deconstructing everything we thought we knew, and have lost ourselves along the way. That’s why I believe the Origin Story has been pulled from the dusty, neglected shelves of the past: to remember and understand who we are.

An Origin Story takes you to the beginning of a world, the moment a character becomes who they truly are, or the foundation of a life-changing or destructive idea. The Origin Story ultimately leads to two conclusions: the very beginning, or the ending of all endings… Life, or death. I know I got a little dramatic there, but a little flair of the dramatic doesn’t hurt, does it? Also, a “Classical Music for Writing” video on YouTube with violins that make me feel a part of a BBC drama could be the reason too. Sorry, ADD brain. Back to the matter at hand and the question this blog post leads us to ask: What are the characteristics of an Origin Story?

One of the key characteristics of an Origin Story is placing your audience directly into the shoes of your main character(s) and with atmospheric details. Make your audience taste the sweet, light air in a meadow and the kind sun that blankets you with the perfect amount of warmth, or place them in an old castle. Your fingers etch the cold cobblestone walls with dust caked into the crevices as you let it tell its story and of the people who once roamed in its halls.

In addition to giving your audience the physical senses of your world, giving them the emotional world enhances their reading journey. Even if you write in the third person, you still have the ability to make the audience feel what your characters feel. The seething, searing burn of anger that leads to regret, or the way forgiveness gently echoes and hopes you will come into its safe embrace. Reading can change our worlds and hearts for the better if we let it. When we recall our life experiences and listen to others, it gives us more insight and empathy than ever before. This leads to another characteristic of an Origin Story: giving your audience the sustenance of specific information.

Whenever you are writing your story, you are writing/recalling an entire lifetime. When you are creating a lifetime, it can be difficult to sift through the details, and choosing the valuable nuggets of memories/experiences that will provide context later on. Choosing details can also be a weapon of choice in creating the perception you want your audience to initially have of the characters. I love it whenever an author makes you think you really know a character, only to be completely blindsided by one moment of moral compromise or some negative event laced with long-term consequences. In that moment, it feels like the ultimate stab in the back, but when you look back on it after the story ends, your inner-writer understands and applauds the masterful writing… Most of the time. Some stabs in the back tend to be a little harder to heal from than others. Definitely not basing this on personal experience… I’m not crying, you’re crying.

At the end of the day, the characteristics of an Origin Story tells us this: Origins reveal the core of the human heart and its existence. It is one of things we can return to when we are lost, so it can help us get back onto the straight and narrow path; we are trying to survive the uncertainty before us each day. Our origins are what’s brought us here.

Whether in a light or dark season in life, intentionally or subconsciously, there is a story I personally return to, and as a writer: the themes and story of the Gospel. God has communicated to us through a book, in His own words, who we were in the beginning, and who we can be when we really think about the significance of the cross and the love his son Jesus displayed through his death and resurrection. The origin of our lives can begin with the cross, and the One who made the tree to bear that cross for you and I. 

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