A Curious Mind

Stories come from people who ask questions.

If the world is solved and wrapped in a neat, bow-tied package, there is no need to add new conversations. If we already know everything there is to know and have traveled every pathway there is to travel, then why would we try to search out what we have not already experienced and commit it to words?

Now, this is a ridiculous exaggeration and certainly, there are stories that are told and re-told over and over again.

But any story that is not a direct repeat of the one before it came from finding some way to slide or shift or look beyond what was already there.

Stories come from people who ask questions.

What would “happily ever after” look like for a cowboy and a hard-nosed single mother?

What would happen to our society if nobody could sleep?

What would a world where dragons were tools of war look like?

How could a cat find happiness with an owl?

Stories are about answering questions, conscious or unconscious, and creating more in the process.

As a reader, I love asking questions.

Every new story I walk into has so many possibilities and directions and I am eager to see what shape the writer creates from their initial question.

My problem is that, sometimes, I think that writers forget that the root of our desire to read and explore is curiousity, is that insatiable need to poke at mysterious objects with sharp sticks until they reveal their secrets.

It is not that there is not comfort in tried and true formulas, skillfully executed.

It is that sometimes I think that there is such an overwhelming rush to get to the answer of the initial question that the world the question inhabits is left as pieces of stage scenery being carted about by grumpy extras.

There’s no need to fill in every background detail and piece of the surrounding universe (that has its own set of terrible problems)!

But sometimes I wish that more writers would leave hints of a world that is doing its own thing outside of the central story, continuing in its own pathways and mysteries, while the story takes place within it.

It takes a question to begin a story.

Our minds do not become uncurious because we are following that question to its conclusion.

I can only hope that more writers will leave some of those other questions sitting quietly to the side, a gift for those who wish to ask and answer questions of their own.

IMG_0794It’s nice to have a path to follow but even nicer to have other paths running alongside

I love creativity and curiousity in equal measure. I can only hope to encourage more explorations of both in the works I read.

If you’d like to see my own sets of answered and unanswered questions, you can read my fantasy novel,  The Guests of Honor. It is available here.


4 thoughts on “A Curious Mind

    • I’m glad that it resonated with you. My hope with all of these posts is that they will be helpful in some way and I am happy that this one gave you some ideas to explore.

      I’m a huge fan of the power of curiousity and I can only hope that more people try to incorporate some of that particular magic into their writing.

      • I’ve been grappling with this idea in speculative fiction. Speculative fiction usually refers to Science Fiction-esque or Fantasy-esque fiction, right? Because both of those genres deal exclusively in ‘what-ifs’.

        But isn’t all fiction about what-ifs? Isn’t every fictional story some kind of fantasy?

        I couldn’t agree more that curiosity, for me at least, drives most of my stories.

      • As someone who writes in speculative fiction, I certainly am biased towards your perspective. But, as the romance example in my post shows, I believe that all stories *are* based on what-ifs, even if we don’t consciously say the question out-loud.

        I read a lot of genres and the determination to separate out what I see as the strengths of each genre make me sad. Anything that blurs boundaries, such as acknowledging the questions at the roots of most stories, makes me very happy.

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