Thursday, August 7, 2014

Robert Frost on How To Know If The Story Is Working

When you're first starting out, it can be difficult to trust your instincts since you're not sure you even know what you're doing. But learning to trust your instincts is an important part of growing as a writer. Just because someone tells you to change something... that doesn't mean you absolutely must. If a dozen people are saying the same thing, you might want to heed their advice. But in the end, it's your story. And you always have the final say.

A storyteller is seeking to entertain by providing what Randy Ingermanson calls the "powerful, emotional experience." That's it. Sure, there are tons of writing rules to learn, but it all comes down to making the reader care about what's going on. And Robert Frost wisely understood that if he cared, so would the reader. And that's how you know that the story is working.

Have you ever found yourself bored by your own story? Have you ever made yourself laugh or cry?


15 comments:

  1. I get bored with it when I can't think of what to do next. Then, when that comes to me, I'm usually not bored anymore. Oh yes, I have made myself laugh multiple times. I haven't cried yet, but I almost cried the other day thinking about killing one of my characters...I had planned to kill him but i didn't realize how much liked him!

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  2. Laughing, yes. But I've never cried over my characters. And only once or twice over other people's characters. And never at a movie. Yeah...not much for tears.

    But surprises--quite. The joys of being part SOTP. =)

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  3. *sigh* I'm still learning to trust my instincts. Mainly because I like to make people happy, and if they don't like something in the story, then there must be something wrong with it, right? :P But I know you can't make everybody happy all the time, and if at the end, you're dissatisfied with what happens in your own novel, you're going to have a hard time loving and promoting that baby.

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  4. Yes! I'm working through this while should I be a writer or not thing. Instead of oushing for a new story I went back to read an old one. A bunch of times I've been really surprised like "I wrote that?" In a good way! It still needs a lot of help but I feel like the story has a foundation I could probably turn into an entire book. Will I? Remains to be seem.

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    1. I've had those moments, too, Tonya. "Wait, what? I wrote that?! I don't remember that! Awesome!" :)

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  5. I haven't cried yet, but I have laughed a numerous amount of times!

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  6. I'm learning how much I admire writers who can make me cry or feel things on such a deep level. That's what I want my stories to do–definitely still working on that.

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  7. I cry over the deaths of my characters... and of course laugh at their bad jokes xD My novel is really coming along...

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    1. One of my characters cracks jokes all the time. The dwarves in my war sided with the evil king, so he says "Looks like he got the short end of the stick!' I think i groaned. XD

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  8. I often think of that quote, and how true it is!! I do cry over/with my characters . . . The last death scene I wrote, I was literally crying through writing the whole thing. And then I also laugh with my characters and different things with them. :)
    When people tell me they've cried during the reading of my novel and have laughed at certain things, it is such a wonderful feeling of accomplishment! :)

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    1. And as for surprises, I've had friends tell me they were surprised over something in my novel. Like they didn't see such-and-such coming or how things would turn out, but as things fell into place,they said it was believable and they liked it, etc. :)

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  9. Oh, so Robert Frost is the one responsible for that line! Personally, I don't agree with it, for a simple reason: Everyone has a different threshold for how easily they cry (or how surprised they get). I'm sure everyone knows a leaky faucet who'll cry at anything, and a rock who never cries. The author's sorrow tolerance level has little to do with how good they are at writing sad scenes. Case in point: I've had two people tell me they cried reading a story of mine. I was not at all inclined to cry while I wrote those scenes in that story.
    However, I'm sure Frost didn't mean it completely literally, and there is, of course, some truth to the quote. Personally, I've never cried because of something sad in my stories, but I have laughed.

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  10. I both cried and laughed! Which surprised me, actually. I never cry when I'm reading a book (all right, almost never ;-)), but being touched by your own book is one of the best feelings ever!
    And I also liked the moment when I had to smile about my own humor in a part I wrote many months ago. Which is not happening always as well.
    Being bored by my own story? Way too often, mostly when I've been working on it for a while or very intensive. But when I reread it, I'm often surprised by what I read ;-)

    arendedewit.blogspot.com

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  11. I let my friend read half of one of my manuscripts once. I sat there and watched as her eyes traveled across my words; I watched as she laughed, smiled, reddened… In the end she was sprawled out on my bed bawling her eyes out. I couldn't help but smile because it was so lightening and heart warming to know that I can play with the emotions of readers.
    I have laughed, angered, and cried at my own writing. I used to think it was weird, and cracked the "Fangirling over your own book" jokes… This post is making me feel just a little more sane ;)

    youngwritersfantasy.blogspot.com

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  12. Yes, I've had to write scenes in my book that are horrible, and I didn't want to, but knew was the best for the plot. Love this!

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