Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Another Thought On Formula Writing

This popped up on one of my social media posts. I am sure that (or at least I hope that) the author of this post thought this was a humorous look at writing. What worries me, though, is that there are probably a lot of authors out there that believe this.

According to the site, writing a killer pitch line for your story is really an issue similar to choosing what you are going to eat from an Ala-carte menu (something from Column A, something from Column B). So, the way it works is you take your name and then, using the letters, you put together your pitch. You can read the full details on the article here... LINK

Again, I am sure that this author of this post is doing this with with a huge grin on his or her face. Sure, this is funny. But again, as I have said here over and over again. Writing is not a formula.

Do I think that some people will believe this approach works? Unfortunately yes. I believe this because I also see authors sit in workshops, read workbooks, read blog posts like this and walk away believing, "If I do it this way, my book will be perfect."

I have been teaching writing for a long time - both fictional and academic writing. What I always tell people is that their thesis for their academic writing, or their idea for their story will dictate the approach they need to take. We don't say we are going to write a story in 1st person, AND THEN decide on the story. The story picks the approach.

So, with that said, have fun with this. Treat it like all of the other fun surveys we take on social media. But remember, you dictate the story.

By the way, according to this, my story would be:

A high voltage family drama about a quixotic doctor's expedition grappling with a sexless marriage.

(Note, I had to add in letters from my middle and last name to complete the sentence.)


  1. I'll let you figure out my pitch. (deep groan/hand slapping forehead)

    You nailed it when you said the story picks you. I've met a lot of people who messed up a great idea all because they forced the story to speak on their terms and not the stories.

    I've always felt that the characters come to me with a story to tell and it's my responsibility to tell it right. In other words, tell it their way.

    I attended my first conference last year and I loved it but the message was clear: There is no magic formula unless it's called hard work.

    Fun articles. Thank you Writer's Digest for telling me about your blog.

  2. This is a bit odd, given what's going down at the moment! I also needed to use middle name letters "An edge-of-your-seat instant classic about an overbearing daughter's pains to explore her privilege." Yeah, I'm not writing that one. 0_o