Posts Tagged ‘instinct’

I think as writers, the thing we lose sight of more often is what readers desire. People read or watch movies for the story itself and not the form (for the most part). The form being the mechanics and the tidbits, and some people will prefer all the flashy stuff over subtext–that is fine. But honestly, I have a hard time believing someone will put down a book and say, “Wow! What superb use of punctuation and grammar.” I’m not saying this isn’t important, but compared to the story itself, it takes a backseat. And writers can spend too much time agonizing over what is considered proper or accepted.

The story is essential. It is everything. If you cannot present a captivating tale, with a vivid world and characters, no one will even bother to find out if you can write properly. Your book will be discarded. And if you write with perfect grammar, follow every rule, and never show an ounce of imagination, your work will become sterile; your story will be lost in yawns.

And this transcends to any medium. For example, a couple years back, the video game Rage was released, and I was pretty excited to play it. I have always held a fascination for post-apocalyptic stories, and this one looked sweet. The story is thus: an asteroid is coming towards earth, and to survive, arks are created to be buried deep in the earth with people in cryo-sleep. So, the game starts off with your main character awakening 106 years after impact, and immediately you are attacked by Mad Max style bandits and saved by some duder voiced by John Goodman.

Now, the game itself had wonderful mechanics and tidbits. Beautiful graphics, great game play, interesting side quest and characters. However, the story–the reason for playing–was horrendous. The character outright accepts that the ‘Authority’ is bad without question, and all the free settlers are the good guys. Then you go on quests to help these people, and no where along the way do we really find out why the Authority is bad, other than a few scattered allusions. There isn’t even a main villain to fight. You just steal some trinket and game over. WTF! is what I said.

Sure, the game followed the accepted mechanics of creating a video game, but in the end, it will not be remembered (at least by me). Why? There is no substance. It is just a shiny cover with nothing inside.

So, write for the story first. Worry about the mechanics later. I have said this before, I will always say it: follow your instincts. If you write something because you feel the tingle of inspiration, you have probably struck gold, and it may not follow accepted methods of writing nor may it be what is popular. But damn it all, don’t ignore your inspiration.

Anywho, enough of this. Write and write with passion.

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Could have been an awesome story. Epic Fail.

A while back, Steve Yeager provided some superb advice on how to accept the critiques of your peers (Accepting Critiques with Grace) but what I would like to present is this: where do you draw the line in accepting feedback and sticking with your instinct?

I’ve been with Stonehenge for little over a year, and I have grown so much as a writer due to the feedback of this group, which ranges in age, genre, and perspective. If you are lucky enough to find a spectacular gang of writer’s, you cannot argue the benefits of seeing things from people who are not family or friends. But even then, you may not agree with all points of view or you may. Ultimately, it is up to the writer how they effect change within their story based on feedback.

For the sake of argument, let us say, out of ten people reading your work, all ten provide outstanding advice. Should you implement every change offered? Does the story remain yours? Or do you filter through the ideas and use them, tweak them, or disregard them?

I would like to share a quote from a writer, both lyrical, literature, and screenplay, who has had a profound influence on my life, Mr. Nick Cave: “All of the great works of art, it seems to me, are the ones that have a total disregard for anything else; just a total egotistical self-indulgence.”

I’m in no way saying don’t listen to any feedback or advice, but Cave brings up a valid point to consider. Many of the changes to my novel, which really spiced it up, have come from outside perspectives. But there comes a point when you need to trust your instincts, speak to your own heart and purpose, and soar with your own wings. A sentence may not be grammatically correct, or may have odd word choices, but it really has soul and meaning, to you, and everyone says change it. Do you? Or do you stick with your guns?

A writer’s group, select group of friends, or any other form of critique group will very much help you get to a higher echelon of writing, or art, and what I ask is, are you creating for you or others? Like any form of art, it takes years of discipline and practice to fine tune your style, and in the same arena, you must develop your own ear and instinct for feedback. Regardless of which methods you choose, always remain true to yourself, but always approach everything with an open heart, an open mind, and the rest will come…