On Pretending To Write

Just a short one today, I’m in Dallas and it’s really nice! Very warm.

Let’s talk about writing. Writing is pretty fun, I recommend it if you have the time (and everyone has time). But what’s the point? And what should you write about?

I’m not a very good writer, at all. It’s difficult to be a great writer when you’re so good at being concise, or when other people have already written what you wanted to write, but a hundred times better. Being a mediocre writer is not an excuse for slacking off and giving up, however. Virtually everyone starts off at the same level of awful, so it’s often just a case of showing up and putting in the effort. This is true of everything, so we’re not really exploring writing specifically right now.

So with writing, what’s the step-by-step to becoming better? Of course, it depends on what your goal is. If you want to be a fiction author, you need to spend time learning the fundamentals of story telling. If you want to write a successful blog, you need to have a clear vision for the content you want to provide. Both require practice, but sometimes it’s harder to write one style over the other.

For instance, right now it’s easier to write a blog than it is to write fiction, because right now most of my energy is spent on work things. I get home, and the last thing I want to do is try and construct a worthwhile narrative. Rather, I’d like to whine and moan and vent. What better medium than that of the humble blog? But alas, moaning is not the order of the day.

I want to become a better writer. To that end, I have TWO writing based activities in my timetable. One: I write a blog post every week. Sure, they’re not great, but every post is a step in the right direction. Two: I try and plan out stories. Proper fiction. I’ve read more than my fair share of fiction writing guides, so it was high time I actually tried to push out a real piece of work. Both activities have their own challenges: Writing a blog post needs a subject, writing fiction requires an imagination. I lack both, but my eleventh hour superpower is finding something to write or muse about, so that’s handy.

Writing non-literary fiction isn’t ‘hard’ in the sense that you have to brave the dark, cold world of authorship alone. It’s a well-trod path. There’s theories of story-craft already devised and waiting for you to apply them to your writing. Let’s go through, very quickly (because it’s far too late), the first three key structure points that your story has to hit before it can be considered sound:

1) The Opening, and Hook – In the first twenty or so pages of your novel, your protagonist must appear, and something exciting that entices the reader to keep reading. For instance, the introduction of a compelling setting that demands further attention (think The Fifth Element, Final Fantasy 7).
2) The Inciting Incident – The event that pushes the whole plot into motion. In The Lego Movie, this is when Emmet finds the Piece of Resistance, shifting his whole life from the usual ‘follow orders, tow the line’ ordinary to the dangerous, thrilling adventure that is the quest to keep the Piece from falling into the wrong hands.
3) The First Plot Point – The moment that everything changes, and that change defines the goal of the main characters. In The Lord of the Rings, Frodo steps up and declares that he will bring the Ring to Mordor. Note that he had only previously agreed to take the ring to Rivendell. His resolve to continue the quest defines the First Plot Point, and drives the remainder of the story.

And then.. Well, that’s for another time. Indeed, the significance of each milestone is also currently a mystery to you, my reader. I recommend checking out Larry Brooks’ Storyfix website for more information while you wait!

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