Of Stories Seen as Trees

From a tiny seed, a story sprouts and grows in complexity until it reaches its maturity.  Sometimes it blooms as a flower, a small bush, and sometimes as a fully-grown tree. My writing draws from the roots of my own experiences and readings, plus my dreams and desires, all mixed by imagination to create a story.

I suffer from the opposite of writer’s block: my challenge is to herd the overload of wild ideas. My stories evolved from complexity to simplicity. My path towards writing compelling stories started with clunky, too-ambitious plots filled with incomprehensible jargon.

Of course, some savvy SF readers possess the advanced tools and experience to climb a billard-ball smooth bark without the writer having to cast them too many clues. Those readers enjoy the challenge of entering a world devoid of any explanation, and they have to patch the setting together by what the characters see.

Before they can enjoy the view at the summit, you have to make sure your readers can climb on the tree. So you make sure the story sprout lower branches on the trunk, at regular interval, to help the reader up. 

How I grew my writing career

Love of nature and science fiction directed me towards Earth sciences and later engineering, but shy me never could get any solid foothold in those fields. Two master’s degrees later and NO publications (the scientists among you know what this means) led to a string of dangerous, short-term, precarious jobs. The good, stable, sitting jobs went to others.

I loved drawing stories since a tot, and published graphic novels in small presses, but I never managed to stand out in the crowd of wannabee or cool artists. I had this knck of flying under the radar of the comic experts.

I found out at a later age that 1) I was on the autism spectrum, which didn’t help with my shyness, 2) I was better at creating alien worlds.

So I left the field of sciences and used my knowledge to tell space-operas in French, harvesting several prestigious literary nominations, and some awards in the SF field. My pair of parents accepted this change and enjoyed my winning my first SF awards.

Meanwhile, I was laying siege to the main SF mags and collecting rejections slips, then rejection emails.  With time, my short-stories passed from “wibbly-wobbley” with cardboard characters to straight-arrowed with rich, lovable characters. My excel sheet stretched past two wide screens. Rejections morphed into hold requests, and much later, perseverance paid!

Most of this Asimov’s story was written in one day, while wearing my Pirates of the Carribean outfit, because this was Halloween night and I was simultaneously finishing the story and receiving the trick-or-treaters at the door (this was Before Covid). And as I never lost the love of disguise, I had a blast, arrh!

A promise kept

My engineer dad had been the one to introduce me to reading science fiction (and also go birding, and running and star gazing). My first books were Isaac Asimov’s collection I, Robot (translated in French) and La fin d’Illa, a novel by José Moselli (published in 1920 in chapters, collected later in the Fantastic collection of Marabout).

In the fall of 2014, I stood at the hospital bed where my father was reading an Asimov’s issue. He was terminally ill, but intellectually active and writing his last paper.  Then and there, I promised him that one day I would have a story published in that magazine. I had been submitting stories to top and semi-pro markets since 2005, and getting rejections.

So this first story is the fulfillment of a promise made to my SF-loving father, Jacques E. Laframboise.

—Michèle Laframboise

michele-laframboise.com  (French and English)

sundayartist.wordpress.com (illustrated English blog)

echofictions.com (my indie publishing house)

2 thoughts on “Of Stories Seen as Trees”

  1. I love the tree metaphor. Great graphic illustration. I don’t think I have seen a cartoon used so effectively to describe the writing process.


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