Storytelling Tips From Author Nicholas Sparks

 

Storytelling Tips

Nicholas Sparks is the bestselling author of 16 novels. Seven of his books — Message in a Bottle, A Walk to Remember, The Notebook, Nights in Rodanthe, Dear John, The Last Song and The Lucky One — have been made into movies.  Here, the prolific writer offers storytelling tips. These are his words combined with official behind-the-scenes images taken from the set of The Lucky One, which opens in theaters April 20th. 

Storytelling Tips

Nicholas Sparks is the bestselling author of 16 novels. Seven of his books — Message in a Bottle, A Walk to Remember, The Notebook, Nights in Rodanthe, Dear John, The Last Song and The Lucky One — have been made into movies.  Here, the prolific writer offers storytelling tips. These are his words combined with official behind-the-scenes images taken from the set of The Lucky One, which opens in theaters April 20th. 

Previous | 1 of 6 | Next

Storytelling Tips

Photo by: Alan Markfield Â© 2010 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. -- U.S., Canada, Bahamas & Bermuda © 2010 Village Roadshow Films (BVI) Limited -- All Other Territories  Producer NICHOLAS SPARKS during the filming of Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Village Roadshow Pictures’ romantic drama “THE LUCKY ONE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

1. Tell a Universal Story


Generally speaking, I set out to write easy-to-read, entertaining, original love stories with a poignant endings, ones that generate genuine emotion – with universal themes and universal characters. In terms of style, I attempt to write with efficiency, conciseness, and originality in uncluttered, vigorous prose.  The same is true when telling stories through photographs – be efficient, concise, original, and uncluttered.  Take photos that show genuine emotion, and keep them universal – they won’t get dated.

1. Tell a Universal Story


Generally speaking, I set out to write easy-to-read, entertaining, original love stories with a poignant endings, ones that generate genuine emotion – with universal themes and universal characters. In terms of style, I attempt to write with efficiency, conciseness, and originality in uncluttered, vigorous prose.  The same is true when telling stories through photographs – be efficient, concise, original, and uncluttered.  Take photos that show genuine emotion, and keep them universal – they won’t get dated.

Previous | 2 of 6 | Next

1. Tell a Universal Story

Photo by: Alan Markfield Â© 2010 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. -- U.S., Canada, Bahamas & Bermuda © 2010 Village Roadshow Films (BVI) Limited -- All Other Territories  LEXIE SPARKS, LANDON SPARKS, SAVANNAH SPARKS, CATHY SPARKS and Producer NICHOLAS SPARKS during the filming of Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Village Roadshow Pictures’ romantic drama “THE LUCKY ONE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

2. Consider Narrative and Emotion


My ideas never come easily. Generally, I work through hundreds of ideas and characters (a process that can take months) before finally making my decision and beginning to write.  Once I’ve decided on the theme, I start to mentally outline the story and run through possible ideas. Before I start writing, I know how the story begins and ends, as well as five or six of the major events in the novel, which serve as turning points. Once I have those things, I’m ready to begin. Most of what happens in between the five or six major events is created as I proceed.  The same is true with telling stories through photos – take the time to think about the narrative and emotion you want to capture before you take your shot.

2. Consider Narrative and Emotion


My ideas never come easily. Generally, I work through hundreds of ideas and characters (a process that can take months) before finally making my decision and beginning to write.  Once I’ve decided on the theme, I start to mentally outline the story and run through possible ideas. Before I start writing, I know how the story begins and ends, as well as five or six of the major events in the novel, which serve as turning points. Once I have those things, I’m ready to begin. Most of what happens in between the five or six major events is created as I proceed.  The same is true with telling stories through photos – take the time to think about the narrative and emotion you want to capture before you take your shot.

Previous | 3 of 6 | Next

2. Consider Narrative and Emotion

Photo by: Alan Markfield Â© 2010 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. -- U.S., Canada, Bahamas & Bermuda © 2010 Village Roadshow Films (BVI) Limited -- All Other Territories CATHY SPARKS, ZAC EFRON and Producer NICHOLAS SPARKS during the filming of Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Village Roadshow Pictures’ romantic drama “THE LUCKY ONE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

3. Storytelling is a Process


It can take as long as three months to conceive of a story, and in the end, it usually takes four or five months to complete a novel, not counting editing, which adds an additional month or so.  The “thinking” stage is the most challenging – it’s so frustrating to sift through hundreds of ideas, not knowing whether you’ll ever come up with one worth pursuing!  The same is true with photography – you can take hundreds of pictures and only come up with one truly great shot.

3. Storytelling is a Process


It can take as long as three months to conceive of a story, and in the end, it usually takes four or five months to complete a novel, not counting editing, which adds an additional month or so.  The “thinking” stage is the most challenging – it’s so frustrating to sift through hundreds of ideas, not knowing whether you’ll ever come up with one worth pursuing!  The same is true with photography – you can take hundreds of pictures and only come up with one truly great shot.

Previous | 4 of 6 | Next

3. Storytelling is a Process

Photo by: Alan Markfield Â© 2010 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. -- U.S., Canada, Bahamas & Bermuda © 2010 Village Roadshow Films (BVI) Limited -- All Other Territories SAVANNAH SPARKS, LANDON SPARKS and LEXIE SPARKS during the filming of Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Village Roadshow Pictures’ romantic drama “THE LUCKY ONE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

4. Involve the Reader


Some of the reasons readers and critics have given for my books’ popularity are: the novels are easy-to-read and entertaining, the reader is made to feel like "a fly on the wall" and feels involved in the story, readers can relate to the characters, the stories are believable, as if they could happen to anyone, they are deeply romantic, they lack profanity, and they make readers both laugh and cry.  Again, these are universal qualities that I strive for.

4. Involve the Reader


Some of the reasons readers and critics have given for my books’ popularity are: the novels are easy-to-read and entertaining, the reader is made to feel like "a fly on the wall" and feels involved in the story, readers can relate to the characters, the stories are believable, as if they could happen to anyone, they are deeply romantic, they lack profanity, and they make readers both laugh and cry.  Again, these are universal qualities that I strive for.

Previous | 5 of 6 | Next

4. Involve the Reader

Photo by: Alan Markfield Â© 2010 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. -- U.S., Canada, Bahamas & Bermuda © 2010 Village Roadshow Films (BVI) Limited -- All Other Territories ZAC EFRON and LEXIE SPARKS during the filming of Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Village Roadshow Pictures’ romantic drama “THE LUCKY ONE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

5. Mirror Life's Emotions


The best dramatic stories allow the readers to experience a full range of emotions. Hopefully, my readers feel a bit of everything—empathy, hopefulness, happiness, love, anger and sadness—as they turn the pages of my novels.  Make sure your personal photos do the same.  A story – like life itself – isn’t complete without the full range of emotions.

5. Mirror Life's Emotions


The best dramatic stories allow the readers to experience a full range of emotions. Hopefully, my readers feel a bit of everything—empathy, hopefulness, happiness, love, anger and sadness—as they turn the pages of my novels.  Make sure your personal photos do the same.  A story – like life itself – isn’t complete without the full range of emotions.

Previous | 6 of 6 | Next

5. Mirror Life's Emotions

Photo by: Alan Markfield Â© 2010 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. -- U.S., Canada, Bahamas & Bermuda © 2010 Village Roadshow Films (BVI) Limited -- All Other Territories LEXIE SPARKS and SAVANNAH SPARKS during the filming of Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Village Roadshow Pictures’ romantic drama “THE LUCKY ONE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.