The Writing Shed: A Community Blog

Author Ann Elia Stewart blogs about writing

Where do stories originate?

Written by Ann Elia Stewart, Community Blogger | Sep 9, 2012 1:06 PM

I know there's a community of writers out there in WITF land. How? Because 1) I live within its lush, verdant landscape; 2) I facilitate a creative writing workshop twice a year at the Fredricksen Library in Camp Hill and it always fills up within a day or so; and 3) A book entitled "A Community of Writers" -- an anthology of short stories written by twenty-three of the workshop's participants and illustrating the decade-long dialogue I maintain with area writers -- is available on-line at, or  If you buy or download a copy, the library benefits from all sales. 

So this blog is for you: writers and those who want to write but maybe are a bit timid to put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard.  I want this to be a dialogue, not a monologue. Feel free to ask me anything about writing and I will answer to the best of my knowledge and experience. Or I will direct you to other sites chock full of writerly advice. 

But I do not want to limit this blog to just writerly advice because, frankly, you could find that just about anywhere. Writing involves having lived life. Even if you're fifteen, with your whole life before you, you've lived. And if you have the inclination to write, you have something to say. I know this how? I also teach three days a week at the Capital Area School for the Arts in Harrisburg. Five high schoolers eager to write, willing to learn, and having a lot to say.  They range in age from fifteen to eighteen. And their take on life is beyond their years.

As for me, I've been writing since I was nine, published at fifteen in my high school newspaper, then again in my college newspaper, and when I embraced the professional world, publishing creds have included daily newspapers, weekly magazines, countless (and byline-less) advertisements and marketing materials, speeches, short stories and novels. I know where stories originate. They originate from life. 

I'll let you in on some of my own experiences and how I turned them into fiction if you are willing to explore your own. With me, right (write) here.  And well, we'll just take it from there!

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  • Margaret Yakimoff DeAngelis img 2012-09-09 18:35

    In 1970, a friend told me a story about a friend of hers who had traveled in India while studying fashion design, seemingly unaware that there was terrible poverty all about her. For reasons I can't explain, that detail odged in my mind. I have not seen the woman who told me the story in more than 25 years, but today I gave that detail to a character. It will be the reason her relationship with a socially-concious young man who chooses a life of service ends.

    Margaret, that is precisely the detail I'm talking about, the origin of a story. The challenge for me when writing Frank's point of view was to juggle his inner life with his outer life, something I had watched my father do over a period of years. The line between them blurred and I wanted to capture the confusion and alternate reality to Frank.

    How about other writers? What stood out in your experiences or memories that you used to great advantage in a story?

  • lukashik img 2016-04-27 10:48

    "Believe me, the most brilliant invention - a trifle in comparison with that nameless art which is called folk", answered the attacks on the writer. But after hearing modern stories and mysterious stories, the great writer and folklorist would have found material for another collection of tales, and really scary. showbox

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