Thursday, August 2, 2012

Why Are You Writing What You're Writing?

There's always a point in every manuscript I write where I stand back and ask myself why I'm writing this particular story.  Why I am the only person who can write it.

In the last three months, I've written two Zero Drafts.  Those are what I call my ridiculously detailed outlines.  I've refined my revision process to the point where what I used to refer to as a first draft, I now refer to as a zero draft...a 200-300 page exploration of my story that I'll probably delete when I'm finished so that I can write the real story.  Anyway, after I finished the zero draft of the first story, I stood back and asked myself why I'd written it and why I was the only person who could write it.

The answer to the first question was that I thought the concept was cool and I wanted to write a book that I thought was more mainstream.  The answer to the second question wasn't so easy.  I'd written a neat book that had some potential, but there wasn't anything special in it. Nothing that a hundred other authors couldn't write.  That's when I knew it wasn't the right manuscript for me.

Before I was even half-finished with the ZD of the second manuscript, I asked myself those same questions.  And my answers were different.  I wanted to write the story because I needed to write it.  It was a cool concept too...really cool...but more than that, I wanted to write it because I wanted to read it.

But was I the only person who could write it?  I knew the answer was immediately yes.  This story hurts.  It digs deep into who I am and steals from my experiences.  People often say that every story that can be told has been told.  But no one else has experienced the things I have in the way that I've experienced them.  And that's what allows me to tell a story.

So, why are YOU writing the story you're writing, and why are you the only person who can write it?

As a side note, I've been following this great blog Necessary Fiction, and they're spending a month on revision.  It's more of a literary fiction blog and sometimes veers into the pretentious, but there are still a lot of gems that make it worth reading.

And if you haven't seen this list of Pixar rules for storytelling, you should check it out too.

Once last thing:  If you see a lot of missing images, that's intentional. Even though this is a personal blog and not a commercial one, this blog scared the pants off of me.  I'm too poor to be sued.

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