The elements of story: fire

FireworksInside2If water is the flow of a good story, and earth gives a story weight and substance, and air is the freedom of the storyteller’s art, then fire is the imagination itself. The energy that creates worlds.

Every story begins as a spark in the mind. The universe itself began as a next-to-nothing that exploded into light and life. And whether there was an Author behind it or not, this universe is an unfinished, always astonishing act of creativity. Just look at a lilac bush, or a sunset, or a giraffe. The universe came up with stars, galaxies, planets, life, and then it really got going and dreamed up a being that could create universes inside its own head, share them with others, and change the way things are. A being who can tell new stories.

That’s the incredible gift and power a storyteller has at her command. A trace of the fear and reverence that used to be felt for those who wield this creative fire survives in the way we still regard authors as slightly mysterious beings. The difference being that we used to be in awe of the power of their art, but now we respect them only if they make lots of money.

Both attitudes miss the point. The fire is something meant to be passed on, from mind to mind, to be shared by all. We all have this creative fire in us. We all have the power to transform the world.

In my Perilous Realm trilogy of YA fantasy novels, the spark of creativity is called the fathomless fire. It can be used for shape stories for good, or it can be used for selfish reasons, to trap others in a story over which they have no control. The battle for the Realm in Book Three of the trilogy, The Tree of Story, is a struggle between these two ways of wielding the creative fire of story.

Coming soon: a post about the mysterious fifth element of story.




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