Thursday, January 6, 2011

Superlatives

When I graduated from high school, classes voted on which of their members were the "Best" this and the "Most" that. The shyest, the nicest, the most changed since freshman year, best looking, most talkative, and of course, Most Likely to Succeed. I don't know if schools still do these "superlatives" anymore, but there's one way in which the concept of superlatives can help us in our writing. And that is: the best stories are often found in such extremes.

When I ask others to tell me a story, I often ask for their best or worst experiences, or their funniest. Or their first or last encounter with something. "The worst trip I ever took" is bound to be an interesting story. As is "the funniest day of my life" or "the last time I saw this person I loved" or "the first time I met the person I ended up marrying."

I'm not saying every one of these stories will be gold--just that these are often the memorable moments, the highs and lows of human experience, the times where we make emotional connections. Sometimes when I'm seeking a new story idea, I think of these extremes: best and worst, first and last, funniest and saddest, highest and lowest.

2 comments:

  1. My high school used to have a whole page in the yearbook for Most Likely To's, but they had to discontinue that tradition a few years before I attended the school because the kid who'd been voted Most Likely to Crash His Mom's Car actually did crash his mom's car and he and his father died :/

    There's my depressing story of the day.

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  2. Becca, I was thinking maybe they didn't do it anymore because of the competition aspect, but WOW. A case like that one didn't occur to me.

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