This Word Makes You a Very Lazy Writer

This Word Makes You a Very Lazy Writer Blog Post via KLWightman.com
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We’ve all used this word when we think, when we speak and when we write. It’s very easy to do.

See? I just used it.

Didn’t catch it? Let’s try this again.

It’s not an elaborate word, a controversial word, an out-of-date word or a trending word. It’s a word that we slip in to our sentence at the very last moment to emphasize our point.

Missed it again? I’ll spell it out for you.

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Is It A Story Or A Story Idea?

Is It A Story Or A Story Idea?
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Is It A Story Or A Story Idea?

Credit: churchsermonseriesideas.com

As I creative writer, I hear this often: “I have a story for you to write.”

“I’m listening,” I’ll say.

“It’s about a blind man who regains his sight, but then loses his hearing.”

“Then what happens?” I will ask.

“You tell me. Write it!”

But that’s not a story. I definitely appreciate the lead-in, but let’s call it what it is. A story idea. A writing prompt. A character.

So, what’s the difference? Let’s define it.

A story, in simple terms, is a narrative telling of connected events with a setting, characters and plot.

A story idea is a fragment of a story. It’s an idea for a character, a backdrop, a start of a sticky situation.

But what happens next? What happens to the character? What happens at this place? What complicates the situation? How is the plot resolved?

There’s nothing wrong with story ideas. The best stories were born from a story idea. The difference here is that the writer recognized that the story idea was, in fact, a story idea and took the time to grow it into a story.

Even the best of creative writing students mistake a story idea for a story. I know I did.

During my grad school years, I wanted to write a young adult novel about a teenage skater girl who gets sent to an all-girl Catholic school. I was so certain that I had a story that I plunged in and wrote several chapters. But by Chapter 5 and she still wasn’t at the all-girl Catholic school, I knew something was up.

I didn’t write her to be at the all-girl Catholic school because I didn’t know what would happen next. I didn’t take the time to see the big picture because I was so excited about one detail of the potential story.

That’s when I knew I only had a story idea, not a story.

Don’t worry. I was able to shape the first chapter into a short story.

That’s why I’m a big supporter of outlining a story. I agree that freewriting helps in the creative process of crafting the plot of the story, but we creative writers often believe that we’ll be able to write a perfect draft from start to finish without any hiccups simply by having a story idea.

But a story idea isn’t enough. Knowing what happens from start to finish as well as how the characters change and grow is.

At least, enough to know that you’re on the right path towards a story.

Do you agree that there’s a difference between a story and a story idea? Share your thoughts below.

Why Reread Books?

Why reread books? Because you're missing out.
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Why reread books? Because you're missing out.

Confession: I avoid rereading books when possible.

But that’s not possible when you’re in grad school.

Books you read in high school will appear on your class syllabus as required reading. And having read it five years ago doesn’t count.

I once considered rereading books a waste of time. I have reading lists of books I want to read once, and you can’t highlight a book twice.

Yep, I’m that person.

But there’s value to rereading books. Although my grad school days are long behind me, I still pick up a book I’ve already read from time to time.

And you should too.

So why reread books? Because you’re missing out if you don’t.

You Missed A Lot The First Go-Around

Story details go unnoticed the first time you read a book. Since you already know the “what happens next” parts, reread the book to focus on the little things that heighten each plot point, character, and setting. Can you spot the foreshadowing? Can you find hints of a character’s point of view who isn’t telling the story?

You Have A Different Perspective

When I first read Catcher In The Rye as a teenager, I immediately identified with Holden’s point of view and claimed him to be misunderstood.

After rereading the novel as a grad school grown-up, I found him to be very whiny and depressing.

It’s hard to read a book objectively. And when we don’t read objectively, our personalities and life events change how we perceive a story. Were you in a bad place when you read the book before? Read it before a life-changing event? Reread the book through your new filter to see what you notice now about the story.

You Should Analyze Story Structure

Reading is always a constructive task for writers. After you let yourself enjoy the story the first read-through, it’s time to get to work.

What’s working in the story? What’s not? How did the writer succeed in conveying X, Y, and Z? These are questions you should be asking (and perhaps journaling about) when you reread so that you know how to improve your own writing.

Why do you reread books? Share your thoughts below.