From 2018 to 2019, I learned what makes good writing, I learned about the components of writing, learning the different ways of writing sentences, learning what makes a likable character and about character arcs and on and on. All these pieces make up the puzzle of good storytelling. And although I understood these and even in an intellectual way could explain them, I couldn’t weave them together. I spent a year trying.

In the end, I learned something more fundamental: I’m not a naturally born story writer. I didn’t naturally think like a writer and piece a story together. But I reminded myself: storytelling is in my bloodline if I go back far enough. Somewhere in there, there’s a green-eyed, dashingly handsome primate, huddled around a fire, mumbling some story about how a fierce lion scared him off his speared antelope.

Inspired, I soldiered on, adjusting my approach, and after some tinkering and playing and failing about, I discovered the bridge to becoming a natural-born writer, the bridge that natural-born writers like Neil Gaiman or Stephan King have which the majority lack. It’s the right mental-models. It’s the right questions they ask, consciously and unconsciously, to evoke the story we see on the page.

So here in 2020, I’ve been on a hunt for these questions. Less focused on what concepts writers think about and more focus on how natural-born writers think. What questions do these authors unconsciously ask themselves? If I can consciously learn those, I can unconsciously use them.