Short blog this week, but a LOT to think about…
An interesting article in The Atlantic called “All Stories Are the Same” came to my attention this past week. If nothing else, the title was intriguing, and I wondered if this was yet another of those “There are only N basic story concepts” or “The N basic character types” articles. You must admit that the title is even a trifle depressing.
But it’s actually a very positive piece that should give all writers hope. Plus, it contains some wonderful advice.
First, here’s the link. I strongly recommend that you read it immediately or at least print it out because sometimes online magazine articles disappear after a set period of time or go behind a paywall. Print it anyway because it’s worth reading more than once.
This article because it puts into perspective a lot of those articles and writerly dictums such as the three-act (or five-act) structure, the hero’s journey, narrative structures, and where to place the inciting incident. It also shows you the commonalities of ALL good stories and, in my humble opinion, helps free you to tell your story your way.
I have never believed that you need to learn things like the three-act structure to become a good writer, and this article validates that belief. Learn to trust your inner storyteller before you try to follow someone’s set of rules on how you should write. I’m not saying that you can’t learn from books on the subject of writing, only that you should never take then as the only way to write. If you do, you’ll likely fail.
There is no requirement that you must take a creative writing course or workshop or have an MFA in creative writing before you can be a good writer. Such courses can help, but there are many great writers who never took a writing course. (Did Dickens or Twain?)
To summarize: No one can teach you how to write, only how to write better. You have to find your inner storyteller first, and until you do that, you’re going to struggle.