Sunday, September 29, 2013

Story Webs

A Story Web

Four years ago I wrote a piece for my on-line journal here about how a story can be an intricate web like a spider web. I wanted a picture of a spider web to go with it, but it was late October and the spiders were battening down their hatches for winter, I suppose. I looked all over the woods for spider webs. I mean there are thousands of spiders out here on the farm, but none I could find at that time ready to pose and have their web featured on my Writer’s “Home” Journal. I did eventually take the photo above of a spider web just outside my office window. I think his ever so many great grandsons are still out there making webs in front of my window. They figure it’s a prime spot because I work a lot at night and the light attracts those unwary moths to their webs.

So you may be wondering, what is all the fuss about a spider web picture? None. You’ve no doubt seen plenty of spider webs and so would have no problem bringing to mind a spider web with all those ladderlike connecting bits of sticky web. I just wanted a picture then to illustrate my point that creating a new story is sort of like a spider spinning that web. Ever since then,when I see a great spider web, I remember my hunt back then for the post I wanted to do. Last week, I spotted the web of one of those big yellow and black garden spiders, not in the garden but on a tree in our yard. So of course I took a picture.

And here it is. To go with it, here’s part of that long ago blog. Even if you read it then, I’m sure you’ve forgotten it by now. But I put spider web in the search area here on my blog and the post popped right up. Computers are so amazing. 

I’m going to be starting a new story just as soon as I finish trimming the one I’m editing. I’ve got 7,000 more words to trim. Already cut 6,000, but it’s getting harder now and the editing deadline is approaching. But here’s how I compared beginning a new story with a spider spinning a web.

A writer starts out with the first bit of web or story idea and swings on it through the air in an attempt to connect to something else. Something solid that she can anchor her story on. Maybe a character coming to life in her mind or a truth she wants her characters to discover or maybe just a fun idea of what happens next. And then the writer starts inching down that first initial web strand to figure out the next direction to spin and then the next and the next until the story is complete with its dozens of connections - events and happenings that lead to other events and happenings in your story. And you hope your web is strong. So strong it can capture readers and wrap them so up in your story that they'll sit right down and read it through without even trying to break free of your story web. 

Now you might notice that the spider web in my picture (The old picture. In the new picture the spider did a very neat and wonderful web.) is a little ragged looking with some gaps here and there, but in spite of that, it's holding together. That's what I always want my story to do too - hold together. It may not be perfect. I'm not a perfect writer. But I do like to tell stories and I'm glad to be spinning a new yarn now that I hope all of you will want to read someday.

Hope you enjoyed revisiting one of my favorite posts here. 

I’m drawing for the winners of my Christmas at Harmony Hill Celebration Giveaway early on Tuesday. You can still get an entry in today or tomorrow. Just leave a comment here with a way to get in touch with you should you win or e-mail me at annhgabhart(at)yahoo(dot)com.  Wednesday night’s blog post will announce the winners. Thank you again for sharing all your wonderful stories. I also hope to send out a newsletter on October 1, so if you’d like to get a copy, let me know and I’ll add your name to my e-mail newsletter list.


  1. Hi Ann, we started a women's book club at our church this year. We have had many good discussions and laughs. We just recently finished Small Town Girl and we really enjoyed it. I bought Angel Sister to read because we didn't realize it was the first book. Keep up your great writing!

    1. Teresa, I love hearing that book clubs have picked my books to read. I always feel honored and wish I could be there listening to hear the discussions. I've had fun visiting some book clubs in person and others by phone. Always enlightening to hear how the reader responds to my stories. Thank you for reading Small Town Girl and I hope you'll like going back in time a little to visit Rosey Corner again. I entered you in the giveaway.

  2. Ann, I love your spider web picture and your use of it to explain your writing. What a brilliant idea! I am amazed by a writer and how his or her mind works. I now have a picture. I will always think of writing a story when I see one of these fabulous spider webs. Thank you for what you do...a true talent!

    melback at cebridge dot net


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