HOW TO WRITE FOR POTSC
By Mohan Karulkar: In case you haven't noticed, we're pretty big on Story around here. Our stories can inspire, teach, reassure, and galvanize us. To the person in pain, Stories can help you see that you're not alone. To the person in trouble, Stories can inspire you to pull yourself out of the rut.
That's where People of the Second Chance comes in. We are a repository for the stories of our community -- for better or worse. We curate stories of triumph, tragedy, excellence, and failure, and we provide a venue to come together and collectively grow. In every story -- and this is part of our mission -- we aim to leave you with something new, something challenging, something that pushes you closer to radical boundless grace.
And that, of course, is where you come in. We want to hear your story and help share it with the tribe. But there are a few important things to consider when preparing your story.
- Storytelling for Catharsis is a selfish act. Catharsis is when you do something for closure, relief, and understanding. Telling your story can help you confront hard truths and struggle through the messy process of grace. This is a good thing, but it's a personal thing. Catharsis happens between you, your loved ones, and your God. It happens in your space -- your journals, your living rooms, your social media, your books, and your blogs.
- Storytelling on POTSC is a selfless act. By the time your story gets to POTSC, it is meant to benefit the tribe. Catharsis has already happened, and you've embraced your story. Even if it's still a work-in-progress, you've identified the lessons you want to share, and you've begun to articulate them in your mind. Stories on POTSC aren't biographies, testimonies, or confessionals (although we sometimes use those words for structure). They are living, breathing documents, meant to share your experiences and lessons-learned with grace and second chances.
- There is more Good in your story than Ugly. We tend to suffer from performance anxiety with our stories. We want them to be dramatic, exciting, and gory. And many of our stories are. But you are more than the ugly stuff. POTSC celebrates the triumph in your story, no matter how small you may think it is. The Ugly gives you context; the Good gives you character. When thinking about and writing your story for POTSC, use the Bad for background, and focus instead on the Good -- the turning points, the champions in your life, the lessons learned, and the hope for your future. A good rule of thumb for breaking down your story's timeline: 20% Before, 50% During, 30% After.
- Most people don't have the same story. Every heartbreak is different. Every failure, every act of abuse, every betrayal is different. Similarly, every triumph is different. Every recovery, every relationship, every religious experience is different. Assume when you're writing your story that no one knows what you're talking about. Write descriptively, and in plain language. Avoid technical terms and religious cliches. Describe events, feelings, and thoughts.
- Our job is to make you sound good. Your submission doesn't have to be perfect. I'd rather you spend more time formulating your story, if that means your written words aren't as polished. We can work with you to shape your piece, and edit your story so it's fit to print. Your job is to decide what your offering to the Tribe is.
Your stories have been a constant since People of the Second Chance sent its first Tweet. They bring us together, and they continue to speak long after they're published. Everyone has a story -- they just need to learn how to tell it. If that's you, we want to hear from you. Email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with a draft or a pitch, and let's get the process started.
Also, check out this piece from last year for even more info and insight on Storytelling for POTSC!
And please, share your thoughts on the process below. Photo Credit