Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Writers: Getting Lost

Obviously I love stories. I'm sure we all do. There is nothing like being completely swept away in a story. Whether it's in a book, comic, video game, TV, or movie—whatever it may be—that feeling is one of my most favorite parts of being a human being and a writer.

Getting lost in them has been a past time of mine since I was a child. I would absorb stories and take them outside to play with. I remember reading about Narnia and searching for portals everywhere I could think. After hunting down Carmen San Diego on my computer, I'd play that with my friends, make clues, red herrings, villains and everything. I'd act out The Oregon Trail. Heck, I even convinced my friends to summon Captain Planet. And there was that one time, after seeing Fern Gully, that I convinced my brother the tree out back was bleeding and we had to save it.

It's hard to put into words what I've gotten out of stories all these years, but I know they are good things. Stories have given me courage, understanding, hope, sympathy, knowledge, respite, joy, peace, and something more to reach for.

I try to absorb as many stories as I can from as many different places as I can, and when I get lost? It's all the better.

Right now I'm drowning in a Korean drama called Boys Over Flowers, which is classic teen drama in every way possible, but somehow the most engrossing thing ever. Seriously, thing series could be on the CW and feel right at home (except it's MUCH cleaner, and yet manages to maintain a level of intense drama).

Boys Over Flowers was an extremely popular show, I've come to learn. In the height of its production, the show garnered 30% of TV viewers in Korea, which is HUGE. And it's not just Korea. The story is originally from a Japanese manga, which then was adapted for anime, and THEN a live-action in Japan. Then Korea snagged it. And Taiwan. That's some serious success.

What this show has taught me is that the "cliches" can work. We tend to criticize certain tropes in novels, but now I wonder why when they can be so effective. Is there an average girl from average circumstances? Yes. Is there a love triangle? Oh yes. A bad boy and a sensitive, good one? Yup. A sweet best friend? Mean Girls? Fighting turned affection? Yes, yes, and yes. And I am totally eating it up.

I love how engrossed I am, too. So there.

As storytellers, I think sometimes we can get a little story-fatigued. They all start to look the same or something. So when it truly hits us, it's even more of a treasure, and I've learned to appreciate those moments wherever they come from. And trust me, they often come from the unlikeliest of places.

Of course, the best thing of all is getting lost in my own stories. I gotta admit it doesn't happen as often as it once did, but the moments when I'm living and breathing my stories are intoxicating. They keep me going when times get hard. Right now, though I can't really work as I'd like, I'm craving that feeling. I want to dig into one of my stories and write and explore and make something that, I hope, other people can get lost in, too.


  1. I love getting lost in books and movies too. It's the best feeling. Especially when we get lost in the worlds that we create ourselves. It's indescribable. Great post.

  2. Your blog design is beautiful, and I'm enjoying browsing your posts. Congratulations on your "sickness." :)

  3. Getting caught up in a story is wonderful. I love it. It's so amazing to be completely lost in another world, another life. And, as a writer, I hope to one day be able to recreate that feeling for someone else.

    Another awesome post, Natalie!

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  5. I suspect we're willing to forgive the tropes and cliches when they're written so well that we don't care that we're reading a variation on a story that we've read dozens or hundreds of times before. It's a great feeling, to get lost in a book, a feeling I need to get myself right now.

  6. I was already agreeing with you about how easy and fun it is to get lost in stories and then you just got even more amazing! I started watching Boys Over Flowers this summer (in Peru, of all places) and I am obsessed. I would never have guessed that it could be so original and engrossing with as many cliches as it uses. Plus the music is beautiful.

  7. It's so nice to hear how much you enjoy reading! We should all have that one "thing" in life that we are so passionate about!

    To Your Success,

    Dr. Len Schwartz
    Pres/CEO of Pro2Pro Network

  8. I just started that Korean drama as well! I actually stumbled upon Korean dramas with Lie To Me on netflix, and I'm like, that was surprisingly fun despite being nothing but tropes and cliches (though it felt a little too long). So I decided I had to try another one, and I stumbled on Boys Over Flowers on Hulu.

    You're so right, it's just completely engrossing, even though you know all the things that are going to happen and why! But when a story just gets it right, it sucks you in and grabs hold and won't let go.

    Nothing feels better than writing your book and realizing that you're just as absorbed by the world you're creating as all those worlds from your favorite books. And when you write those favorite cliches and think, 'I've used it in the best way possible.'

    Love your blog. ^_^

  9. Getting lost in our fictional worlds from time to time is a very good thing!