The best advice I can give aspiring writers, like myself, is to never be afraid to be yourself.
This advice comes with a warning. Being yourself doesn’t mean that all the rules don’t apply to you. Just as certain physical laws make flight possible, there also are certain writing laws that make story possible.
The Law of Communication: Tell a story in a way that can speak to an audience.
This law is very general. It needs to be. There are many ways to fly: planes, helicopters, rockets, the bubble bee, the eagle, the hummingbird. Flight happens in a plethora of ways, colors, designs, and templates. But story, like flight, must adhere to the law of communication. Stories must be communicated. Stories must be understood. This is why grammar, spelling, and syntax are as essential to story as thrust is to flight.
The Law of Structure: Our stories must have structure
I’m not talking about following a writing template. I’m not saying that storytellers must adhere to the structures that already exist. Perhaps there is a new structure we have not thought of. Perhaps there is a way of writing that no one has discovered. That’s wonderful! But in order for a story to be understood, the reader, the human being for which all laws revolve around, must have a harness, a box. a seat, in which to take off into the story. This harness is called structure. Dean Koontz advocates that beginning writers learn the basics of writing before trying anything new. He encourages writers to follow the basic genre structures of Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Romance, Mystery, and Suspense. After you have mastered the genre structures can you learn to break it. And Dean Koontz definitely writes outside of the traditional structure lines. And yet, as much as I agree with the king of the New York Times bestseller list, I feel that I must encourage fellow storytellers to follow their hearts, but follow their hearts with the understanding that their stories will need a story structure.
Law of Love: A Storyteller must be invested in the story.
The law of love is akin to the desire to fly. A butterfly, a bird, and a plane cannot fly if they do not have the desire to take flight. Anyone can write. Anyone can learn to string words together. But not everyone can learn to tell a story if they do not first learn how to show their love (all of who they are) on the page. My advice isn’t about writing for magazines or nonfiction books. That is academic writing. It is easy to write a nonfiction book and construct a simple magazine article without love. However, it is nigh impossible to tell a real story without love.
Which brings us to the end. Full circle. How do you write a story with love? Be who you are. There are physical laws that help us walk, talk, breathe, and fly. But that doesn’t mean these laws can’t be bent. The most important law of all is that a storyteller be invested in her story. That she care deeply about everything that is happening. And that she share herself with her reader. That she be herself and write the story only she can write. This is what I call love.
Consider the three laws. Write a response and post on my facebook page. Do you agree? Are there any laws you think I should have included?