Saturday, October 6, 2012

A Story's Roots

"All of literature comes out of the family--Oedipus, Hamlet--even Genesis is a family story. Storytellers always revert to the family--the people we're born from and the people born to us. It's impossible to exhaust." --Irwin Shaw

I can think of a few families whose life's journey would make a good story, can you?

Do you agree that all of literature comes out of the family? Or might there be other story roots?

Just wonderin'...


  1. I think most of it does, but then the imagination of the writer takes it way beyond.

  2. It all does, because family shapes who we are, and what our writerly themes then become.

  3. With all the middle grade reading I do, family certainly is key. But I would say friendship offers just as many story roots as family. All in all, I would say relationships--whether family, friends, or love--are the basis of story.

  4. Catherine, so true, imagination is key. I don't believe Shaw's quote suggests we write stories straight out of our family experiences. Most of the time those stories would be too, well...boring! The storyteller in us needs to shake things up a bit.

    Cathy, another key point. Family shapes who we are--and like Shaw says the material we gain there is often impossible to exhaust. We just need to go deeper sometimes :-)

    Barbara--thanks for the insight on relationships being the basis of story. That opens up a far wider scope to the subject, and so true.

    Enjoying the discussion. Thanks, friends!

  5. Quite a few story ideas in my writing binder have come from my observations of other families. I wonder if I'll ever get to write them all?


  6. Yes! True, a little reality and a little fantasy probably mixed together. :-)

  7. I love the way this picture complements your topic. I think a lot of stories come from family roots in one form or another. It's a great question, worth pondering for a while! :)