When writing, there are rules based on the experiences of countless authors from several literary periods on one hand and the expectations of readers that are somewhat trained in what stories look like. While it’s never bad advice to play along, for the most part, good writing oftentimes resorts to some unusual surprises. That’s where stories might shine.
Don’t always tell the same old story and dare to break some rules
https://gayauthors.org/story/sammy-blue/gemini/ is partly a very classic story—just like ”The Prince and the Pauper” or “Lottie and Lisa“. Seen one, seen 'em all? My answer to this was:
It doesn’t matter if the story has already been told but if you’re capable of telling it again.
The probability that a story has already been told in a certain way, in fact, isn’t that low. Many cultures know these stories—some of them were inspired by one another; some seemed to have evolved independently. How is that possible?
To answer that question, I’d like to digress a bit and start by asking how I can be certain that the story, I’m writing, is a qualitative one. I’d say, two important components are rules and laws. Do I have to know all of these? Certainly not. But it might help. Every author has a different writing procedure. Some prefer to plan ahead for the most part before they start writing; others tend to write intuitively and might come to the same conclusion: That they are satisfied with their writing. So they avoided rules altogether? I don’t think so. Would they reverse engineer their work, they’d realize they actually did apply these principles, but intuitively. But how can you apply principles of a craft without knowing them? Well, the answer is rather easy: Even if a craft wrote down these principles, they didn’t lay them down in the first place. The craft just did the same thing, the author did: Reverse engineering. These principles are universal—natural laws, if you will. Because they are in all of us. Because we want to be entertained. Surprised. Astonished. But also scared. To be left in the limbo. We authors react to that needs.
So that would mean, you only have to obey these rules to have a perfect story, right? Of course, that’s nonsense. Especially in that case, a story feels staged or even artificial to us—and not unique at all. That reminds me of the German or English lessons I had in school: You’re taught dos and don'ts which work in theory (e.g. when writing term papers or the like) but not in the field (e.g. everyday verbal communication). The best example is the double negative: If I would form grammatically correct sentences in that case, that’d cause a lot of confusion. Not to mention the creative use of language in poetry. You see: If obeying to these rules means turning a blind eye on reality, it might cause more harm than good.
Returning to the initial question, does that mean, that all stories are already told anyway, so it’s pointless to attempt to tell something new? That isn’t entirely true, either, as we already observed. In the following parts, I want to explain to you my thoughts and conclusions I had when writing stories and discussing them, which led me to dive into how other authors write and did write, and which key levers to adjust to write and improve good stories.
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