Are you the best one?

As I was scrubbing the stovetop Monday, I was thinking about writing—what else? There’s a question I’ve seen asked, both online and in writing manuals, that always surprises me. The wording may vary, but essentially this is the question: Why are you the best one to write this novel/story?

I understand asking that question of a non-fiction writer. If you’ve never visited Spain, I doubt you’re the best person to write a travel guide for that country. But this question is also asked of fiction writers, and that makes less sense to me.

Yes, it might be difficult for a lifelong bachelor to write plausibly as a young wife and mother. Then again, there’s always research. That bachelor likely knows a young wife and mother or two. The woman writing from a male point of view, probably has male family members and friends from whom to draw the character.

Likewise, the writers of crime and horror fiction don’t have to be murderers or monsters themselves. And it’s probably a sure bet the writer of a middle-grade fantasy is not eleven years old with personal knowledge of dragons, or fairies, or magical spells.

What these writers do have is life experience, imagination, and, let’s assume, the ability to craft a story. But added to those, isn’t the most important qualification for writing any particular story having the idea for it? By “idea” I mean more than a fleeting thought. I mean the basic premise expanded in the writer’s brain to a fully-formed story idea.

Am I missing the point of the question? Isn’t the fact that the idea came to YOU the primary reason you are the best one to write the story or novel?

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18 thoughts on “Are you the best one?

  1. I think we are each a channel of the creativity of the Universe, and whoever gets the inspiration ought to go with it. There’s a value to following that trail, for the writer, if not for the audience. Hence, there is a lot of unpublished stuff in drawers, mine included! But I am glad I did every word of it. Therefore, who gets the inspiration has the mandate.

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  2. Great question. I think it depends on the story. The novel that I’m working on is so specific to the knowledge that I have personally required over the years {not because of the novel, but just because I was interested in a certain kind of knowledge} and it is because of this that I feel that I am the best person to write the novel.

    But your point is a good one, I think if the idea came to you, then that should put your in the running at least. 🙂

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  3. Like Cathryn, I have some murderers, monsters and twisted souls appearing in my stories. I think if the idea comes to me for a short story, it is mine to explore writing. Sometimes I might feel like I don’t have all the tools needed to start and will do some research for facts. Other times, I can just start writing it. Barbara

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  4. First, I love the way you write. I’ve read your blog now for a bit and find it entertaining. I picked it up from DarksculpturesWrites&Thinks. (http://darksculptures.wordpress.com/)

    Second, I believe a story idea comes to us because our eyes have seen the story and our ears have heard it. The details come later through research, if needed. My tendency is for a story to come from several different experiences and arrive all mashed up on the page. Fragments of my life become the foundation of every story.

    Again, I enjoy the blog. Quite groovy, quite groovy indeed!

    -John.

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    1. Why thank you, John, and welcome to the public side of my blog. 🙂 Also, thanks for letting me know how you found me. I’m always curious about that.

      I agree with you about story origins. I think we can try to force a story, but it’s never as successful as those that come to us the right way.

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