Creative Writing

How to Improve Your Writing By Listening to Life Stories

August 17, 2016

I love cities. Very recently, I had the privilege of being able to visit Europe. My family and I went to the Czech Republic and England. While we were there, we visited both Prague and London.


It astounded me, as it always does, the sheer volume of humanity that exists there. All the people. All the different faces, different combinations of genetics, different clothes, different voices, different languages. And I wondered:


How many stories are encapsulated here?


It saddens me, sometimes, that I’ll never know most of the seven billion people in this world. The older I get, the better I become at squeezing stories from people—asking adults and kids and teenagers crazy things they’ve done, or experiences they’ve had. And everyone has unique stories or adventures. Everyone has had something weird happen to them, including myself.


And sometimes I get so lost in my own dream world—my own story, both the one I’m writing and the one I’m living—that I forget to find out about other people’s stories. Because, in the end, that is how you get to really know people.


There are the surface-level stories, stories that are easy to share off-handedly. They’ll make a person giggle or smile a little, ask some more. But in the end, that’s just what it is: a story.


Then there are the crazy stories, stories that are a bit longer and harder to share, but not in the sense that they’re weighty. They make people gasp and ooh and ahh and they’re definitely points of reference for later on.


And then there are the deeper stories, stories that genuinely give insight to a person’s character and what they’ve actually been through. They’re harder to get out of a person, not because they’re long or hard to explain, but because they’re deep, and sometimes they hurt to share. These are the ones that are the most meaningful, and they’re indicative of a deeper relationship that extends beyond small talk.


So whether you’re writing a story, or talking purposefully with a person, get to know his or her life story. What are your characters’ weaknesses and why? What experiences have shaped them to have the motivation and the drive to achieve their goals? How have the adventures they’ve had molded them into different people?


Who are you really speaking with? Why are their personalities the way they are? How have they changed in the past year, two years, ten? What kinds of wisdom do they have for you?


Writing is personal, mostly because it’s attached to real life at the hip. You can’t write stories without hearing stories. Life stories.


What is your life story? What is your protagonist’s?







Rachel Alison – Column: Creative Writing 

Rachel Alison is a sixteen-year-old content creator with a passion for all the arts, although writing is her main skill. When she’s not doing homework or jamming out to hip-hop, she’s blogging at, making videos for her YouTube channel, or developing her creative philosophy. She hopes to encourage others to pursue creativity as how God meant for people to pursue it, despite the restraints that sin has placed on humanity. To see more of her work, join the creative community at Silver Mess, follow her on Instagram, and subscribe to her YouTube channel!



  1. Micaiah

    August 23, 2016 at 6:27 pm Reply

    When I travel, I wonder about other’s stories as well. This was a great post, Rachel! I hope you enjoyed you time in Prague and London, they really are fun to visit! =)

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