So, here’s the truth about writing: There’s a hundred million ways to write a story. There might even be a hundred billion or a hundred trillion ways to write a story.
Impossible? Maybe. The fact is that everyone writes differently. There’s no absolute, tried and true, single way to write a story. Everyone’s different and has a different story to tell, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction. Or even if it is a combination of both.
Now, let me say this, every story must obey certain mechanics, just as cars must be built a certain way to drive down the road safely and to attract buyers. Every story, whether a short story, a novel or screen play, or a continuing series, must have a beginning, a middle, and an end. We all know that.
A story also needs to have conflict, rising tension which builds to a crisis, quickly followed by a climax and then followed by a resolution. Also, it helps if there are decent transitions so readers, viewers, or listeners don’t get confused or lost. Also helping the reader is good spelling and grammar.
These are the important mechanics. Maintain them as best you can and your car, your story, will carry its passengers, your audience, safely to where you want them to go.
Now, remember, there’s a million billion ways to write your story.
Some people struggle through writing it, the story being painfully hard work. Others, being filled with ideas and imagination, breeze through it. And sometimes, it’s a combination of both.
There are writers, a great many of them, who will tell you that if it hasn’t been painfully hard for you to write your story, then you haven’t done your job. But I have found it doesn’t always have to be painfully hard.
Last year, while writing a new E-reader novel, I stopped writing in the middle of it. It wasn’t writers block, not traditionally, anyways. I had plenty of ideas and a desire to continue writing, but I didn’t like what I was writing. I wanted to finish writing the story, but I couldn’t bring myself to do so. I couldn’t stand what I was writing.
So, after weeks and weeks, months even, of not writing and being unhappy, I prayed about it. I’m a religious person and I turned to God for help.
Now, before anyone takes offense at this, let me say this: I respect other people’s beliefs. If you don’t believe in God, please don’t take offense at my beliefs. If you don’t believe in God but rather believe in the Universe, or a Universal Mind, or just in the power the human mind and nothing else, that’s acceptable to me. So, whether my inspiration came from God or the universe or my own imagination, what is important about this is that I listened. And obeyed.
The inspiration that came to me was to go back twenty thousand words and delete it all, which I did. Then my inspiration was to follow a different direction in the story, which I also did. It worked out so well for me that in three days I had written more than ten thousand words.
Changing course in the middle of writing a story is considered absolutely stupid and an incredibly bad move. Most writers, maybe 99 percent of them, counsel against this. But I did it and it worked well for me.
This is why there are more than seven billion ways to write a story; because there are more than seven billion people in the world. And we all have a different story to tell and a different way to tell it.
So, don’t be afraid. And remember to listen. Because, whether the inspiration comes entirely from within you, or from the universe, or God (as I believe), listen to it and obey it. It’s the best way for you to write your own story.
What the rest of us writers say, take it with a grain of salt and do what you wish with it.
And if your wish is to flush what I say down the toilet?
Go for it.