Friday, October 5, 2012

Writing IS NOT a formula

I am currently working with a group of beginning writers and they are in the middle of a huge issue that I believe most authors face. In simple terms, they are trying to treat their writing in a formulaic method. In other words, there is a belief there is a right and wrong answer. This is far from the truth.

Your writing, the actual story, will dictate the best approach you want to take with the story. Do you want to have 3 protagonists? It depends on the story. Do you want it in 1st person? It depends on the story. I think you get the idea. I can really go on and on forever with this list.

The same goes for query letters. My approach is simply my approach.
  1. Start with the basics about the book - title, genre, word count, high concept.
  2. Tell me about the book.
  3. Tell me about you.
There are other agents who scream, yell and rant that this is wrong. Nope, sorry to say this, but they are wrong. This approach is simply one of many approaches to take when it comes to query letters.

How about pitching? The same thing happens here. Some people want one thing and some people want something else.

In each of these cases, the approach you take as an author "depends on the circumstance." As we said in the first situation, the story will dictate the approach you take in terms of the structure. With queries, pitches, synopsis writing, proposals and so forth, who you are sending it to dictates the approach you take.

I have a few words of warning for many of you:
  1. Do not try to make one method work for everything.
  2. Use your critical thinking skills and determine what will be the best approach for every one of your writing situations.
  3. If you are taking a workshop, listening to a lecture, reading an article or blog that screams there is only one way, don't automatically dismiss the thought, but at the same level, do not believe it is the ONLY way.
Have a great weekend!

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