Tea for Creatives: Jim Lyons Helps Writers Weave a Tale
James Lyons is a story consultant, theorist and the creator of Weave My Tale, an interactive and educational website where authors participate in developmental exercises to better understand their stories. Utilizing his Conflict-Growth Method, authors develop theme, craft story arguments, and discover the True Identity of their characters. An MFA in Film Production gave Jim the opportunity to write, direct and collaborate on over twenty films and to study story theory in a range of disciplines, including screenwriting, acting, directing and writing novels. He is currently writing a series of children’s books and an on-line novel, The Preachers Son.
Jim shares his thoughts about the unique challenges in creative process that writers face as they develop stories and why embracing story development theory can help writers achieve depth in creating storylines that matter to readers as much as to the writer. Read on to find out how you can have your story’s developmental assets and liabilities analyzed by Jim.
What does creativity mean to you?
Achieving the impossible: because when creativity works well, and seems to come from someplace outside of me, I feel as if I have achieved the impossible.
What unexpected directions has creativity taken your life/career?
The first half of my life I spent studying chemistry, psychology, philosophy and law, but when creativity took over my focus shifted to visual arts such as painting, sculpture and film. I also changed my major from Engineering to Film. It was during this time I fell passionately in love with all things story related.
What have you discovered about story theory that can be most helpful to the aspiring writer trying to go from inspired idea to a fully fleshed out story?
My story theory, Conflict-Growth Method focuses on the idea that in all stories there is one theme or argument, which is disputed by the opposing points of view of the protagonist and the antagonist. As a story progresses, the protagonist’s point of view shifts toward the antagonist’s; ultimately, allowing the protagonist to find their True Identity. Every reader wants to know the Hero’s True Identity, and the author needs to know this better than anyone. The way to figure this out is to answer the question: How has your Hero’s argument changed by the end of the story and how does this relate to who the Hero truly is? Any writer who wants to have an analysis of their work-in-progress – Premise, Theme, Argument(s) can complete a form on the bottom of the Weave My Tale Homepage. Just be sure to read the descriptions before sending it in.
What is the biggest creative obstacle you’ve faced? How did you work through it?
Figuring out where the source of my inspiration comes from and how best to tap into it. After years of failed attempts to write the way I thought I should write, I came to realize that my best work comes when I figure out the words in my head first, paragraphs at a time, prior to writing anything down. It took some time before I understood that success in life comes when we accept our strengths, as they are, dirt included, instead of how we want them to be.
What creative project are you working on, now?
I’m writing a novel, The Preachers Son, and I’m developing two stories on the Weave My Tale blog. For the stories, I post development exercises that are designed to uncover the essence of character, plot and theme, and how it all fits together. I’m also writing a series of articles based on the Conflict-Growth Method for Book Marketing Magazine.
You’re hosting a tea party and can invite anyone, living or deceased. Who are the first two people on your list and why?
My wife, who is a theater director and brilliant storyteller, because we love drinking tea together. Charlie Rose would have to be second, because I’ve often imagined being interviewed on his show discussing my work. He’s an intellectual in the main stream that seems to get that intelligence can be exciting.
You can spend the day in the life of any writer or character (film or book), who do you choose and why?
Private Charles Plumpick from the French film, “Le roi de Coeur (King of Hearts)” because it is a zany comedy, which kind of fits the household I grew up in. He is a Scottish scout whom is sent alone to investigate a town abandoned and rigged to blow by the Germans. By the end of the film he decides to leave the war behind and do something that will make him happier—check into an insane asylum with the women he loves; because war is the worst kind of madness.
Jim wants to know: What are your challenges in story development?
Respond in the comments.
Do you want Jim to analyze your work-in-progress – Premise, Theme, Argument(s)?
Complete the form on the bottom of the Weave My Tale Homepage.
Just be sure to read the descriptions before sending it in.
Tags: artistic process, author, coaching, Creative Anxiety, creative minds, creative process, creative writing, James Lyons, Jim Lyons, photography creative process, story development, story writing, tea for creatives, Weave My Tale, writer, writing tips
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