|Forget About Being a Great Writer and Focus on Story First|
|Have you ever picked up a book that has been on the bestseller list for months and months and the author is all over the publishing news because all the movie deals coming in and how rich they are—and then the writing is bad, like really bad, and you think—WTF???Yup–been there, done that. Have you ever gone to the movies and so many things are wrong and yet the film is bringing in millions and millions and you cringe at the story mistakes? Yup–been there, done that.|
This has been my philosophy for as long as I can remember.
There is nothing wrong with being great with words or wordsmithing. I admit, it’s not my thing, but if you allow it to get in the way of the story, that is where you will have problems.
The reason is that people come to you for the story not the words.
STORY IS ALWAYS FIRST.
The words should come LAST.
The sequence of writing a novel should go something like this.
NEW FULL DRAFT– I do this from memory with a blank page.
REVISIONS on story, character, at the chapter level.
Then workshop it.
Then critique group.
Then if you are really sure this is the best version of your story you get to line edit. (usually about the 8th or 9th revision)
Sounds like a lot of work right?
Yup, it is.
Writing novels is hard.
Think of it this way, if you were to make a wedding cake, you finish with the tiny details you start with the eggs, flour, sugar, etc.
It’s the same with your story.
Now, for the screen and TV writers out there, this is the same for you.
if you waste your time writing clever dialogue, scenes, and jokes but the story isn’t working, your movie or your episode will most likely suck.
Why? Because story always needs to be first. Great sentences and super clever jokes won’t and can’t carry a story.
I STRONGLY recommend the below two books by Lisa Cron-they are game-changers.
WIRED FOR STORY & STORY GENIUS
They will help you get to the root of your story and the exercises she has are invaluable
|EXERCISE Make a list of your top ten favorite books or movies (or both) and then write down what you love about it. I bet ya, it’s the story. It may be all the clever jokes or the witty dialogue but at the end of it, it’s probably the story. Example–THE 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN–very funny, lots of hilarity–but why do we love this movie? The STORY is solid. The character has a want and a need that isn’t happening for him until he is forced to change. Another example is the GILMORE GIRLS--talk about your witty dialogue but is that why you tuned in? Nope, it was the story of a mother and a daughter in a small town. The witty dialogue was just the flower on the icing on the cake. One more. TWILIGHT. Is the writing brilliant? Is she a wordsmith? No, but the story of two teens in love and one of them having a dark secret that is dangerous is one we know and instantly want to know more. Also, 50 SHADES OF GREY.|
Now, are you ready to make your STORY stand out?
I know that you are. It’s hard because it’s been drilled into our heads that we have to be these perfect writers to be successful but honestly, that’s part of it but more importantly is the STORY.
Don’t forget that.
Then pretty words.
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XO happy writing!