I can only speak from personal experience here. But I imagine that for most writers, there is some kind of conduit or lens through which our stories – be they short stories, novels, poetry, etc. – are written through.
For me, that lens is through experiences in life. As I have grown over time into the man I am now, I have walked through more than a few hells, and faced more than a few demons. I believe it is the same for us all.
As I walk through an outline of what I want the story to be, or say, I think about the things that make for compelling storytelling. Difficulty, in nearly every possible way. Despair and hopelessness, a couple of friends who have found a permanent place in my life, really lead toward life-changing events. But only when the very depths of the darkness have been found can one understand the light. And that is where hope comes in.
These few elements, while simplistic in understanding, are what I have found make for the best stories, because understanding what these are is only the beginning, and the journey is filled varying shades of all of these, to varying degrees of complexity. The hero’s journey may lead to one becoming a hero…or to a hero falling from grace.
I think everyone has dealt with these issues in life. I don’t think the hells we endure are justified, ever, but they can make for knowing, on a deeper level, the very things that make us human, and even in fantasy we can apply these ideas, these ideals, the best and worst of those things we’ve been witness to, and out of these things we create a tale, woven through with elements of all.
I believe the truth behind the story is what makes the best stories. It is said that the author is hidden within their tale. Perhaps in one of the characters, or maybe in events that happen to the characters. This, to me, is what makes the reader hate or love these characters. I’ve found myself hating characters because they remind me of me, and all the worst of me, too.
So I guess what I’m trying to say here, is to remember that when you’re reading a book, a poem, or a story of any type, that you are reading someone’s life. Their time, their energy, and most importantly, elements of what made them who they are…