What’s more important: A good story or good writing?
My cousin asked me this question recently as I was giving him tips to build out a series of travel essays he’d been working on.
I want to be able to say that both are equally important, but I think a good story is the first priority. Good writing comes in the revision.
Here are a few pieces of advice I gave him as he sets out on his writing journey to ensure he’ll write a good story AND write it well.
Create a reading list. We should always be reading but when I start a writing project, I like to create a custom reading list for that project. I advised my cousin to read books in the same genre as he expects to write. I always like the “Best American Series” books, so I suggested he add The Best American Travel Writing 2012to his list. Read more
Attending Robert McKee’s Story Seminar in Los Angeles a few years ago was an experience I will never forget. From the hotel I stayed in with whispering elevators, themed floors, fuchsia colored walls, and stuffed sheep in the lobby, to Mr. McKee’s intense (read scary) demeanor and boot camp-style story lessons, I learned more than I could ever have imagined. I learned about story events, scenes, beats, sequences, acts, inciting incidents, story climaxes, different types of plots, and much more–all designed to make us better storytellers.
At the end of our long, exhausting weekend, Mr. McKee said there was one more thing we needed to do everyday if we wanted to become a “serious” writer. We collectively held our breath, waiting for this last drop of wisdom to anoint us into full-fledged writerhood.
What he said was not what we expected. Read more