Craft, Fiction, Imagination, Novel, Questions, Short story, Writing

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. Well, thank goodness for that! (murderers & monsters)

    I don’t understand that question in the context of fiction either. And you make a perfect point in your last paragraph.

    I’m looking forward to seeing what your other readers think about this.


  2. As a fiction writer of a particular novel (the only one I’ve attempted so far), asking myself the question, my first thought is this: I’m the only one that has this story in my mind, so how could anyone else write it? I think this is your point, Linda, if I understood you. I fall short in understanding at times. Please, forgive me, and definitely correct my misunderstanding.

    IF anyone could pick my brain and see the thoughts that envisioned the story of my novel, could such a one do a better job of writing it? Possibly so. Anyone may wish to write a fiction story that originates in your mind or mine, but wishing is just wishing, isn’t it?

    My mother used to tell me this: If wishes were horses, beggars would ride. Ha! I’d say what? (I was a little girl.) That one must have originated in the dark ages. She had a lot of them she’d say when appropriate. I cherish them now.


    1. No worries, Carol, you got my point. And yes, many get an idea for a story, but can’t write it. That’s why I elaborated on “idea.” We all seem to agree that if an idea comes to us, and we can flesh it out, then we are absolutely the most qualified to write the story.

      I think somewhere back there, someone took this advice meant for non-fiction writers and applied it to fiction writers and now it will be repeated ad infinitum, though it makes little sense.


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