As a writer who is constantly working at my stories, and ceaselessly evaluating what it needs to really give it a heartbeat, I always come back to the question we always ask. Again and again....
“What makes a good story?”
And this isn't just the typical thing, the “interesting beginning, middle, end”, with “good characters, good conflict, and resolving ending”. In whatever mode that takes. We write to write something unique—at least to some extent. It may be something simple that we are just writing for someone to past their afternoon with a good laugh, or it might be something philosophically, emotionally challenging. It could be anything. But when writing, inevitably we come to that question of what makes the story worthwhile—what is the secret of OUR story. Sometimes I think the secret is more of a mystery to the writer, than the reader.
My own primary issue when writing, especially my epic, is clearly understanding my main character. There are things that are very similar to myself about her, others that are different. Or are they? I suppose then, the question is—do I know myself?
The only ways that I have come to know my characters better over the course of the last six years is through continued revision and discovery—and things I learn in my life. About myself, about things that are important to one's life, what one must work for and defend. Things I realize are precious about those that we share our lives with—or those that have gone before us. So I guess all I can say about the discovery of the secret of my own story—which is an ongoing expedition, let's say—is that it is extremely organic. Extremely personal. But perhaps it will be the better for that in the end, as it will by that point be so infused by my own life. I would hope that makes it all the more relatable on a very personal level for the reader.
I'm writing more with the desire to see what others will have to say about their own story's “great secret”, and their own personal modes of discovery, and of understanding what to look for.
I think throughout all history all writers would say— “Heaven save us from the mystery of our own writing”.
I'd love to hear what your thoughts are, so feel free to share this, and leave our own comments below! And if you're interested in a guest post, I'd love to take a look at your own writing, and see if we can work something great out!