The story in us all

I recently wrote a post on a facebook site called Writers Unite! - yes there's an exclamation at the end and no apostrophe - that got a great reaction from members. Here's what I wrote.

As a professional writer (scripts for broadcast TV, Hollywood films, documentaries) since 1988, and as a trade published author since 2005, I have a lot of experience and knowledge to share about the business. One thing I've noticed about most of the 'writers' to have emerged since the advent of the self-publishing revolution is that most focus on 'writing' and being a 'writer' and few focus on story. In doing so they serve up dry pieces of prose, with little imagination and very little real story. Oh, they might think they have a story to tell, but they're coming at it from the arse end of it, if you will. They think that 'getting the paragraph right', or getting the opening lines right. or any such combination of grammatical technicalities will fix things. If your story isn't right. Nothing will save it. Not good grammar. Not fabulous characters. Not any amount of well-written blurb.

Story is at the very heart of the matter. Forget everything else, grammar, tenses, characterisation, genre - yes those are important, but they come later. First and foremost comes the story - and by that I don't mean plot. I mean story. Story is something that is older than words on paper. Story is intrinsic to the human condition. If you are a real storyteller you will find a way to tell your story, whether or not you have mastered the complexities of the English language (or any other language, come to think of it). You will tell a tale that will give us that 'aaaah' feeling when we finish reading. You will connect with the human spirit. So, my best advice for aspiring writers is forget about 'being a writer'. Strive to be a teller of tales instead. That's it. Advice over.

Here's the link - you might or might not be able to read it there. I think you might have to be a member.

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