Sparks and Clicks: A Guide to Sparkly Storytelling

This article is by Sheila Wisz Ellayn.

sparks

Ever since I can remember, the impulse for imagining stories has been inside of me. At first I had little interest in writing about the characters and images in my mind, and I limited them to personal enjoyment.

As a child it was great fun to imagine my own little fanfictions about my favorite cartoons, but the real call to write fantasy came when I started to imagine worlds and characters of my own.

The Calling

The art of imagining and telling stories is something that comes directly from our souls.

A recent article published here on Mythic Scribes expressed the point that no great story comes from nowhere, from a void. Instead, an author’s imagination is influenced and shaped by life experiences and personal feelings. The best stories come from inside of us.

This is why I believe that some of us are somehow chosen to be storytellers. Some of us are called to write. When you really get in contact with storytelling, it becomes a source of joy, excitement and pleasure.

I want to describe what this beautiful experience feels like to me, and this brings us to sparks and clicks.

What are Sparks?

My best stories have always resulted from what I call sparks, and by that I mean those incredible moments when a story comes to me all of a sudden. It’s like the moment when two flint stones collide and generate sparks, or when I light those sparkly Christmas fireworks that I love so much.

The best way that I can describe it is this: Imagine that you are somewhere public, like a mall or a park, and a stranger shows up and starts talking to you. You quickly get to know this person, and you immediately have a clear idea of who the newcomer is and what elements and feelings are a part of his life. You are fascinated by this stranger, and want to know even more about him. It’s an instant and inexplicable connection.

The same happens to me with stories.

Some stories have little sparks, so it’s like the stranger was an interesting person with whom I would like to remain in contact.

Other stories, however, have bright and powerful sparks that leave me dazzled. In those cases, it’s more like falling in love with the stranger. The story screams Tell me now! and there is no putting it aside. These sparks lead to the creation of my best stories.

My heart beats fast, my hands get sweaty, and my breathing accelerates. A smile forms on my face as the story plays like a movie inside of my mind. That’s what sparks are, and I absolutely love them.

Others know this as inspiration, but I think that a single sparkly moment goes beyond most moments of ordinary inspiration. A single but huge spark can lead to the creation of an incredible story, or even a series of meaningful novels.

What are Clicks?

Sparks are very important in my creative process, but they are not alone. Sometimes a story can be very sparkly, but instead of experiencing an instant and powerful connection (the falling in love thing) it’s more like the story beckons me closer to it, like it wants to enchant me slowly before it opens itself to my mind.

When this happens, the sparks may not be enough and clicks are needed.

Clicks are other ways to get to know your story better, to have a deeper insight into its soul. They are moments of connection that lead to surprising changes and unexpected events taking place in the story. Clicks are things that I was not planning, that I had not seen before by means of the sparks.

Good examples of clicks are when characters act on their own, or when a story reveals facets, messages and meanings that you had neither imagined nor intended.

The sparks are the key to a good story, while the clicks help everything to fall in place.

A Sacred Journey

To me, telling a story is sacred.

Every story that I have told has been a journey, full of powerful emotions and moments. I feel destined to express this as part of my life, that it defines who I am and why I live.

This is why for me, and for many others, writing stories is about more than the desire to get published. Nor is it just a career choice. Rather, it’s an inescapable part of our spiritual journeys as we walk this Earth. It’s a calling.

For Further Thought

Are you called to be a storyteller? How do you know?

Do you experience sparks and clicks? How do they impact your writing?

What is your creative process like? How is it different from (or similar) to mine?

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Lisa Brooks
3 years ago

I’m very fortunate as I find myself ‘on fire’ several times a year. The story overcomes me, flooding my mind with details and images. I become enmeshed in the lives of my characters and miss them when the story is finished. I find myself going back again and again just to be with them. It never ceases to amaze how one detail written in the beginning of the novel (when I had no idea of its importance) turns out to be a twist or leads to a shock. Here’s to fire and burning embers. May they never be put out!

Stephanie Vega
Stephanie Vega
4 years ago

I understand exactly what you’re saying – and these sparks can come anytime and anywhere. Often mine come from wondering what someone’s story is – the worker at Starbucks, the intern at the office, etc.

Ed Pierce
Ed Pierce
4 years ago

Sparks and Clicks. Sheila, you are a genius! I have never thought of it that way and your article really put a new perspective on just why I write what I write. I do believe that we, as writers, have a calling and it is that calling that keeps us writing. Thank you for such an interesting article.

Ann
Ann
4 years ago

Great interpretation of the process, for most of us. And that can definitely go hand-in-hand with the other post on world building….you just see something and BAM….your imagination begins. Couldn’t have said this any better myself. Great job! 🙂

Chessie
Chessie
4 years ago

I really enjoyed your article, Sheila! You’ve shared a soulful way of viewing storytelling. Those of us who choose to write as a career path also have these sparks, clicks, and a righteous desire to tell stories. First, before publications, readers, or cash, comes the story. The characters. The creation. A love and passion for storytelling doesn’t vanish when we share our work with an audience. If anything, it increases. 🙂

Abrahel
Abrahel
4 years ago

Beautiful article; one can tell it´s coming straight from your soul It was written with honesty and sprinkled with that magic you have and share with us when you give us your stories. Thank you!

Sheilawisz
Sheilawisz
Reply to  Abrahel
4 years ago

My dear Abrahel:

Thank you very much for reading my article, and thanks a lot for having read almost all of my stories as well. I am so happy that you have enjoyed them a lot, it’s a great satisfaction for me.

My best wishes for you, always.

Aderyn Wood
4 years ago

I love the noble way you describe storytellers as being called or ‘chosen’. I remember once talking to my husband about the process of thinking up stories and he told me ‘you know, not everyone can think of stories.’ I was a bit surprised as I think I assumed it was something everyone did.

My favourite ‘click’ is when everything comes together as one coherent whole – when you finally iron out the plot knots and it can be called a novel.

Sheilawisz
Sheilawisz
Reply to  Aderyn Wood
4 years ago

Hello Aderyn.

Thanks for your comment, it brings me great satisfaction to know that you have liked my article. I tried my best to transmit my feelings about stories, storytelling and why it’s a calling, to be as inspirational as I could.

You know, I have also been surprised to discover that not everyone has the ability to think up stories. First we have to think it up or get the sparks, and click well with the story… and after that we still have to tell all of it, so it’s really something that not everyone can do.

Sometimes I have ventured to dance with a story after just a few sparks, and to my surprise it starts to flow like magic and the clicks are everywhere.

Yes, I agree with you: That moment when everything has clicked together and you finally have the full, living creature in front of you is sheer magic.

I have visited your site already, by the way, and I’ll sign up to your Newsletter.

Have a great week.

Sheilawisz

Aderyn Wood
Reply to  Sheilawisz
4 years ago

It’s great when a story flows, not so great when it doesn’t – that’s the tough bit about writing, doing it when the sparks and clicks refuse to work properly. But, in the end it still comes together.

Thanks for checking out my site, Sheila and signing up! Thanks for the support 🙂

Sheilawisz
Sheilawisz
4 years ago

Hello Britanica.

I am very happy to hear that you have enjoyed my article. For a long time I experienced and enjoyed these magical moments without giving them any name in particular, and it was only recently that I coined the Sparks and Clicks name.

For me, it’s very important to share what sparks and clicks mean and how they feel because they are such a wonderful feeling, and I wish that I can inspire other people so they can enjoy the experience as well.

I am sure that there are many other people out there that have always known this stuff just like you and me, though, but under different names.

Britanica
Britanica
4 years ago

I never considered that feeling to have a name but I know exactly what you mean! I have only written one book and when I put the whole thing together, it all made sense but prior to that, it was clouded. I wanted a way for the reader to be curious throughout the book. I enjoyed this read a lot. I will now refer to key moments in stories as “sparks” 🙂

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