The Beginning Writer's Dilemma

javier's picture

I have no idea on what to write about. The short story I was working on is falling apart after I made some corrections and forgot to include vital details. I don't know what to do. I am not feeling well.

On another note I think I'm understanding what it truly means to be a great writer. See, a writer's ultimate goal is to tell a truth about human nature but they can't tell us as a matter of fact. They lead the reader using reeses pieces, or details, in a path that ends with the truth. If a detail is missing, the reader is lost.

And my short story is almost about romance. I have no idea what to say on the subject because frankly I'm quite inexperienced.

On another, another note, I finally told my mama about my suicidal thoughts and I'll be taking my meds once again. Tomorrow I'll be going to a counseling services place.

Maybe if I'm feeling brave I shall post the story here...


jeff's picture


I think when you are in the writing process, that isn't the time to be worried about the structure of the piece. Just get it down.

Once it is down, you need to then try and get it so that it tells the story in a way that excites you and surprises you. For my novel, I was struggling with the second half, and then I picked up on something the characters said in the first half of the book as sort of a seed that could lead somewhere else, so I ran with it, and it improved the work immensely. Moreso than going back and adding stuff that you needed for later. I like that organic approach.

But I think the key is learning to read your own work as objectively as you can to tell the story you want as well as you can. At no point do you really need to worry about telling the truth about being human or leading the reader down a path (unless you're someone who outlines their stories first, and then fleshes them out, which is rare). Those observations are for later, or to be unearthed and revealed by your readers.

Most writers are going to write about some stuff with which they lack experience, be it neurosurgery, murdering someone, or anything else. The trick is to find the right level of detail to move the story along, without loading it up so much that people start to question it.

As for romance, you've probably lived out many romances in your mind, or had the surge of joy when you see someone you have a crush on, so use as much of that as you can, and use as little of the stuff you may know less about. Sort of like when Steve Carell in The 40-Year-Old Virgin describes the girl's boobs as feeling like bags of sand. He tries too hard to tell his story.

If you have less experience in relationships, make the main character more about longing for that connection. If the characters have sex that you haven't, describe the emotions more than the physical sensations.

There's ways around everything. But the main trick is to write more than you think about writing. Writing and reading are the two most important things to make a writer. If you aren't doing both on a regular basis, you're not giving yourself the tools you need to improve.

Also, an important thing to remember, is that most of the story is supplied by the reader. If you say there is a red candle on a black table, every reader imagines something different. Some will have tiny red tea lights, some tall fluted candles, some big fat hurricane lanterns. Some will see a tabletop that is black, some will think of a table with a black tablecloth. Stephen King says it is almost a form of magic that you can write text and make images appear in people's heads, despite them being unique to each reader. So, you don't have to lead the reader by the hand, but only give them enough information to experience the story you're telling. The more they fill in through their own experience will only make the story richer for them, because it is personal. So, you may not need as many Reeses Pieces as you might think.

If the story is so far removed from you and your own emotions and experience, the first question is: then why is that the story you are writing?

What story will enable you to illuminate your soul through a fictional world? What will make us feel the longing for someone that you have? The sorrow you've felt? Write that story, because only you can.

Hey, Sexy Lady! Oppan Gangnam Style...

MaddieJoy's picture

holy crap that's a long reply

you should make this a journal in itself

The ducks will get you!

jeff's picture


I never know when I'm going to go off like that. ;-)

Hey, Sexy Lady! Oppan Gangnam Style...