Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Your Book Dictates The Approach

Should I write my story in 1st or 3rd person?
Do I need a prologue?
So I should use the Hero's Journey model, right?

I can go on and on with the list of questions we hear authors ask all of the time. There are chances you have asked these and many others for yourself as well. And, probably like many other authors out there, you get completely frustrated when you find there is not definitive answer. In fact, for many of you, what you end up finding is contradictory evidence. But here is a little hint. All of the approaches are probably correct. It all depends on the situation.

There are a lot of people out there who have a great potential as writers. I do believe this. Unfortunately, these writers are lacking one skill keeping them from that greatness. They aren't thinkers. These people just start writing, following formulas and models people have told them to use. They read books or blogs and believe what they saw was the golden truth and following it means success, or the lack of following those "rules" mean failure.

I am reminded of the line from Pirates of the Caribbean when Barbossa reminds us all that the code is simply a suggestion. The point is, when we provide suggestions on stories, queries, synopsis writing, pitching and so forth, these are just suggestions. These are tools that you have available to you. What dictates the use of that individual tool or technique is your story.

When you decide on a story to write, the goal you have in mind for the reader, that big "take-away" you want the reader to have when they close that book, will provide for you the guidance as to which approach you want to take. It isn't the reverse.

Consider this... Do you get ready to plan dinner and decide on the pots you are going to use first and then figure what goes into the pots? Probably not (although Crockpot people might argue with that one). You decide what you are going to cook AND THEN, the pot you cook it in comes next.

Deciding on the approach you take with your writing requires thinking on your part. Not just thinking of which approach you want to take, but knowing and understanding what the effect will be with each of the approaches at your fingertips. Although Technique #1 and Technique #2 might both work, each one will yield completely different outcomes for your story and the impact on the reader. It is up to you to decide.

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