If you are serious about it, writing ain’t easy


In a post I became aware of on someone’s blog via a link today thanks to a blogger friend, its author was talking about whether or not it might be a good idea to employ story-boarding when it comes to writing fiction. To the uninitiated, it may sound like a sensible suggestion. But, while new writers might wish to employ the technique, writers like myself largely refrain from doing so for the simplest of reasons.

Most full time writers (I include myself in this group) will tell you that writing a story is a dynamic process where ideas constantly change direction during the story’s evolution. By relying rigidly on a mapped out storyline, it is far too easy to literally ‘paint yourself into a corner’. I’m a firm believer in ‘flexibility’ being the key to good writing.

One other valid point to consider – story-boarding is just another name for formulaic writing; think pulp fiction, think Mills and Boon, books by Barbara Cartland or perhaps any daytime television soap opera you care to name. Any book written employing the technique, by definition must be highly predictable. While its type may appeal to the brain dead among us, for the vast majority of discerning readers, it is a big turn off. Story-boarding is to be avoided at all costs.

If you had a mapped out storyline in your head and then changed your mind, it becomes extremely difficult to write without elements of that storyline finding their way into your subconscious. If you already know the ending of the story before you have even begun…

It’s far better that you write your story through the eyes of the reader. When they open the book at page one, unless they are one of those tiresome people who read the last page wanting to know how the story ends, most normal people enjoy discovering something new within the story on every page. That is how you should write. Write a sentence, stop, take a long hard look at it, and if it appears to fit what you had in mind, move on to the next one. Pretty soon you will have that first paragraph.

I can and have on more than one occasion, spent an entire day deconstructing a paragraph to the point where it bears little or no resemblance whatsoever to the original! While some say that after reading a book in their favourite genre they could have written something better, I say prove it. Don’t become just another moaning armchair pseudo literary critic on the internet online book sites, writing scathing one star reviews, put your pen where your mouth is and produce a book that people actually want to read. Yes its true that most people do have a book buried somewhere within themselves, but very few have the courage to write it. Even fewer can turn that story into a best seller…

13 thoughts on “If you are serious about it, writing ain’t easy

  1. Pingback: Re-blog: If you are serious about it, writing ain’t easy | OriginalEmily

  2. I like the last para too – reminds me of the anonymous agent’s comment: “most people have a novel inside them. And most people should leave it there!”
    I agree. I have to plan and plot the story, but never in too much detail. I cannot bear the idea that the story will be predictable – neither to the reader nor to me. If it’s too keenly planned, a book loses its dynamism, whereas if you write with a general direction of travel, new side roads can be negotiated, adding to the complexity of the characters and the story itself. Otherwise, it’s all rather sad and flat, to my way of thinking.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I use a one line/one word open plan system to keep me on track, plus my research notes. What the story-boarding article was suggesting made me shudder. She was inferring that each and every detail must be planned out – yikes!

      Thanks for commenting ‘writerly’, much appreciated.


  3. I agree, Jack. I like to start with an idea and see where it goes. It gives me the flexibility to build the world, what I need in it, as I go. If you have a rigid plan, the butterfly effect can take hold when you deviate. Change one thing and you have to change everything to fit.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wise words Jack, I agree. I tend to let the characters and story unfold as I write. I don’t rely on plotting, instead I write from my imagination. That method does tend to spiral out of control sometimes and then I have to rein my writing in, or move sections about. It works for me and I doubt I will change much!

    Liked by 2 people

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