The Final Result
I did not suddenly decide to become an author. Instead, I invented stories in my bonkers mind for years, and only when I had three fully vetted ones did I write them down. Since that fateful day, I now use an outline to visualize the entire plot before committing a story to paper.
I was Facetiming a fellow author recently, and she described her method of writing. It involves jumping on the keyboard and blasting away. The plot, characters, and details develop as she types. I equate this to somebody asking me to “make up a story.” Unfortunately, I am not great at this activity, and I fill my lousy verbal results with pauses.
We both write well (at least I do in my radically biased opinion), but which method is better? I would argue that the means do not matter and only the final result counts. After all, that is what the reader experiences. Yet, there is room for discussion.
Do outlines improve the quality? They are a plot development tool for people like me who cannot create a story on the fly. Perhaps a story with a solid foundation is superior, but artistic creations are best when made without structure.
Let’s invent a simple plot starting with “Sally walked down the hill.” Challenge accepted. “Sally walked down the hill, turned left, and headed to the grocery store. She purchased a sandwich at the deli and ate it in the parking lot. Sally bought apples at the store, walked home, and fell asleep.”
That effort was not exciting, but there is a foundation. Now, the writer could build up the story with details, flush out all the problems and share their creation.
However, there is a glaring problem. The above story is awful. Nothing happened, and I should immediately delete it. However, it was the best I could do on short notice. Some people have a fantastic ability to make things up on the fly. Obviously, I do not. Instead, I noodle an idea for months before committing it to an outline. On two occasions, I had to start over.
What makes a good story? The term “garbage in, garbage out” applies to the process. A talented author will create a fantastic book, and bad will follow bad. However, readers cannot see how a person makes a book. Instead, they only see the published work.
Do we only look at the final result for other parts of our life? Society, physics, and biology have rules with dire consequences. The process for producing results is often important, visible, and open to criticism. For example, one cannot be a successful cab driver by breaking traffic laws. What about creating a blog? Did it matter how I came up with this topic or how I wrote it? Nope.
You’re the best -Bill
May 03, 2023
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