Advice, Craft, Fiction, Questions, Tips, Writing

As simple as that?

As always, I’m reading about writing, looking for those secret words that will make me a better writer … instantly, if possible. I came across this quote from Ray Bradbury:

Find out what your hero or heroine wants, and when he or she wakes up in the morning, just follow him or her all day.

Ah ha! So simple. But … no. Not simple because before I can complete the instructions in the last part of that sentence, I have to find the answers to the many questions posed by the first part.*

  • Do I know what my character really wants?
  • Does she know?
  • Why doesn’t she already have it?
  • How badly does she want it?
  • Will she get it?
  • How?
  • What will happen when she does—or doesn’t—get what she wants?
  • Is what she wants even what she needs?

I’m sure that’s not the end of questions that could be asked. But that’s enough to show that Bradbury’s simple instruction leads to a complicated task. If writing is a breeze for you … you must not be doing it right. Because writing is complicated. There is no short cut. There is no secret. It’s hard work. It’s a joy when the story comes easy and it’s misery when it doesn’t. Either way, you have to do it.

The only way to write well is to WRITE. And write. And write some more. And then, rewrite.

*I’m so embarrassed, people. When Pamela commented, I realized that I posted the wrong version of this post! I’m not even sure how that happened, but the correct version was still in my dashboard marked “draft.” In that version I revised the very statement Pamela took objection to. The above version has been corrected after the fact. So if you read her comment and my response and got confused, that’s why.

18 thoughts on “As simple as that?”

    1. Thank you, Cathryn. Don’t you think not knowing the answers to these questions before you finish the writing, results in more revision afterward?


    1. I haven’t read that book, but if your character was interesting enough, you could do that and end up with a good book. I don’t watch the show, but isn’t that the premise of “24” with Keifer Sutherland?


  1. I am such the planner and plotter when writing a novel and I try to think every detail through before I begin to write. But when I write a short story I am guilty of starting the task with no clearly defined outline.

    AH-HAH! Maybe that is why I have such a difficult time with short stories. You have given me much to think about today.

    Thank you!


    1. And I could probably save some time by being more a “planner and plotter” of novels … but then again, discovering the story is part of the fun for me. I guess you have to find your own balance.


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