The second part of week 3‘s lessons involved writing a short piece, the start of a story, and posting it for review, then reviewing other writers’ work. The piece we wrote was meant to be new, but I ended up restarting a short story I’ve been working on for a few days but wasn’t happy with.
New writers often post in forums to ask if this idea they have is a good one. They post a summary of it and request that strangers offer harsh critique of the idea and opinions of whether they should continue writing the story. Regardless of whether I like the idea or not, the answer is always “yes.” Why? Because if that’s what the writer wants to write, who am I to tell them no?
The problem is that these new writers misunderstand what makes a story successful. The idea is not sacred. An experienced writer has dozens of them a day. Ideas aren’t stories. Ideas are just one of the building blocks of stories. It is a writer’s job to transform those ideas, to develop them into characters and plots and to deliver them to the reader in a compelling narrative. That is what makes a story: the hard work that comes after the idea.