A guest post by Justin “Scrappers” Morrison, Stay Wild Magazine’s Main Helper, our Publisher of the Month.
As a publication, Stay Wild believes we all live for adventure. It’s our personal adventure stories that define us. These stories stoke the fires that fuel our lives and will live on once we’re gone.
I once worked 300 hours of court-ordered community service with the Los Angeles Forestry Dept. An arrest from being a wild drunk party animal landed me in a volunteer Forest Ranger shirt hiking solo for full days picking up trash in the wilderness. During a flash flood I crossed raging waters from an old rusty cable. If I fell my body and the big bag of trash I had picked up would have been a mess. That’s not much of a story but in it I’ve sharing real life details that define me: I don’t litter, I’m a risk taker, I’m a trouble-maker, I’ve broken the law, I took responsibility for what I did, I love being outside, I’m a hard worker, and I’m fine doing things on my own. So much of myself is expressed in a tiny adventure story.
Stay Wild has an open door policy with stories. All are welcomed to pitch a story at any time. It’s no secret and we get 4-5 new stories pitched every day. I’ve noticed at least 4 types of adventure stories.
1. The Blow-By-Blow.
“We left the house at 4am. Sipping coffee while we drove up the Interstate 5. Frank had to pull over to piss at the Lazy Donkey gas station and laundromat…” and so on. If the details are compelling and the story ads up to something unexpected it can be a totally fun read. If it’s boring though, we won’t even finish reading it.
This storytelling style goes over exactly what the people on the adventure did. It’s almost scientific and polite in tone, so not to distract from the facts. These stories usually come with a list of reference links and full names spelled out of every person they interacted with. Sounds boring, but because this style can be super useful creativity takes a backseat and the reader actually gets to where they want to go when they reference the story later.
3. Experimental Jazz.
These are some of the funnest to read and write, but in the end you might be left scratching your head and silently mouthing “WTF”. For example I wrote a story about New Orleans recently and I wrote random details into a pocket book as I experienced the place & people. I had no schedule or plan other then being open to whatever happened. Words like “Voodoux”, “clam shells in the parking lot”, “it’s punk to be nice”, and “old Mardi Gras hang like rotten fruit from a tree” got scribbled in my pocket book. These random things became the frame work that I wrote the story within. I gathered random impression of the adventure and strung them together with instinct rather than logic guiding my reasons.
4. Branded Content.
Just because these stories grease the money machine doesn’t mean you can’t exercise your buff creative freedom muscles. Lets say a backpack company needs a story featuring their goods in authentic use for their blog and social media feeds and they’re willing to pay for it. Most storytellers take the safe path in order to turn in something easy enough to get approved by the backpack company marketing manager. But the story will likely be boring and you won’t get hired again. Branded content is an opportunity to tell a story that the brand can’t do for themselves because they have investors to answer to. They’ve come to you to take risks they can’t. Tell them about shitting into a bag because you take “pack it in pack it out” seriously. Talk about your crap bag springing a leak on the hike and how it filled a pocket of the fancy backpack. Keep the story going to a good place now that you have attention. Explain how you almost lost the backpack to the raging river current while trying to clean to shit out of it. Happy end it while how the pack is super clean now. That’s a branded content story Stay Wild would publish for sure!
I know there are many more styles of adventure storytelling, but these are the most common one’s I’ve noticed. I encourage you to find your own path, but stay open to the unexpected realities and the dirty details that pop up along the way.