Thursday, January 27, 2011

Finding the Amazing in the Everyday Things

I was really struggling on a topic for today. I felt as if I needed to really come up with something that would stand out. Something that would make all of you get revved up about your writing or the business; but it just wasn't there. I wanted amazing.

And then it hit me.

My search for the amazing topic to write about was the exact problem why, I believe, many authors really struggle with great story telling. I was living under the false belief that an incredible and amazing topic would always lead to a great piece of writing. This is just plain wrong. Sometimes the best stories we can tell are the simple ones.

Think about dinners. What are the meals we really remember as being great. It isn't the dinners with the cut crystal, $300 bottles of wine and main courses that we can't pronounce. It is the simple meals. Grandmother's chicken noodle soup on a cold day, the take out pizza or chinese in the living room with your new wife or husband in your first house. That is what made it special.

The things that we remember in those events are the emotions. The strong feelings of the people and the place. The atmosphere simply bubbles with everything human and, in the end, it is that part of the story we tell. The meal goes away.

When it comes to writing, it works the same way. If we have a story idea that is so over the top, we have to spend too much time, for lack of a better word, "world building." We are working too hard to keep the plot going, to make sure the reader knows exactly what is going on, and, unfortunately, we completely forget about the people in the story. Your hero and heroine have become just become the secondary characters and background to your plot.

So where are you at? Are you spending too much time on the plot and forgetting the people? Try this for a change. Keep it simple. Just tell a great story.



  1. But then there's the problem of an agent reading your synopsis of this great, emotional story, and him/her telling you the story isn't strong enough.

  2. Lovely post. And what makes authors individual is what they do with the everyday and transform it into the stuff of stories. I'm tweeting this

  3. Everyday, real life IS beautiful -the stuff of classic, lasting literature. Wonderful post!

  4. Love this post. So true and sometimes forgotten. Today I will get to the heart of my characters. Thanks!

  5. That's deep. I love it. It's our feelings that define us as unique individuals. Why not use them to fuel a great story? Just tell if from the heart and watch the magic unfold.

  6. Great post. A great way to start the writing day. Thank you~

  7. Valerie,

    In no way am I simply saying to eliminate plot. The strength and power of a story doesn't come only from plot, it comes from the character development and how much we get sucked into the story. There are too many times that we confuse depth with more things happening. Just don't let the plot dominate the story. Keep it simple and build on that!