Anybody who’s ever been around a baby knows that blocks are the most fun toys ever to have been gnawed on, no matter if said gnawing is done in a mud hut or a marble palace. Blocks are the cool shit, and don’t let anybody tell you different. As writers, we craft our stories using the building blocks of good storytelling–setting, characters, plot, pacing, theme, and structure. But what may not be patently obvious from the get-go is that our books–the stories we tell–also serve as the building blocks we use to construct our real world.
I watch my kids play Minecraft, and they go absolutely bonkers over finding treasure or discovering a new resource. And every time they do, they build something in their world with it. This is all 8-bit, pixelated, fuzzy little block-figures–to someone who grew up when those same 8-bit pixelated blobs were the height of technology, it is unfathomable why anyone would make a choice to play a game that way, unless you think of it in terms of building blocks. They don’t see antiquated graphics (and with all due props to the programmers who make Minecraft, I understand it was a design choice, not a limit to their tech expertise), they see building blocks, and boy, do they use them as such.
They use these blocky little blobs to shape their pixelated world, and each of them has a completely unique take on how their world should look–while my kids have the same mods, the same material open to them, they choose very different things to shape and build and dig for and construct. Their choices express who they are. My daughter, for instance, has domesticated a pack of pixely wolves who’ve developed families. She’s named them. While my son has taken domesticated farm animals and built a production farm surrounded by zombie traps and lava pits, and only accessible by mine cart.
As writers, we use blocky little books to build our worlds. I don’t just mean via series novels or stories, but the underlying truths beneath each story that we choose to express. Those stories are the building blocks of how we see the world. The stories we choose to tell act as the structural supports of what we believe is worth focusing on in the world. As we improve in our writing skills, if we’re going the right direction, we get better and better at bringing the stories we tell up from that place of truth within ourselves.
One of the structural supports in my world is that deep down, we’re all a little weird and quirky. My short contemporary romantic comedy, Forever Material, is about a Dating Diva who must decide if the world she’s building has room for the right kind of Mr. Wrong.
She’s absolutely sure he’s not the marrying kind…
He’s absolutely sure she’s right…
But he’s still going to prove her wrong.