1. rodney adams
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    rodney adams Member

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    "Why are you writing this?"

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by rodney adams, May 8, 2013.

    I've talked to a few people over the few months that I've been here, and they've all said that to write a good story, I need to know why I'm writing it. I write because it's enjoyable to me; it's a sort of release. My problem, however, is that I don't think that I completely understand the question. By asking why, am I supposed to have an allegorical meaning behind my story, or some underlying moral or lesson? What if I just want to write a cool story and that's it? Is my story doomed to be terrible because I have no other purpose for it than to entertain myself? Thank you for any response!
     
  2. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not in my opinion, no. I think that starting out with a purpose or message or moral or allegory has a fair chance of leading to a less, not more, complex and deep story. When you're just writing a story, all sorts of meanings and links and symbolism are likely to flow out--rather like a dream; you don't plan and storyboard your dreams. When you _decide_ "I want to say X, and Y will be symbolic of Z", those meanings and symbols are likely to be more obvious and with less impact--plus, you may let them drive inconsistencies and unrealistic elements in your characters and events.
     
  3. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    You don't need a meaning or a moral or a lesson. In fact, if you like your story enough to write it with love and care, you'll wind up putting your heart and soul on the page without really being aware you're doing it. I've heard writers say that the first draft is for finding out what your story is about; this is what they mean. You go over your first draft and notice themes you hadn't been aware you put there. If you want to, you can enhance and deepen those themes in the second draft.

    I'm not at all sure that "Why are you writing this?" is a helpful question. It sounds good, but it seems to presuppose that if your answer is merely "Because I like it", then you're doing it wrong and you shouldn't be writing it.

    Ultimately, you write for whatever reason is good enough to make you pick up the pen. There are no wrong answers.
     
  4. Michael O
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    Michael O Contributing Member

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    Why discuss something that serves no purpose? No need for a reason other than because you like it.

    Some people love the sense of power, of control. Makes them feel better about themselves by putting you into a funnel and try to impress you with their wisdom (excuse me while I puke). You write because you like it and if that ain't good enough they can kiss your ass.

    Over time you'll see the ones here who will help you become a better writer. There's plenty of them. You'll write and constructive comments will come.

    Just a matter of jumping in the right funnel:)
     
  5. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have to say, I don't completely understand the question either, and I don't really understand the advice. Is there some additional context that we're missing? I can see someone saying that if, for example, you're writing the story in some particular scenario -- e.g. your story is about two competitors in a prestigious world wide cake decorating contest. If you were to do something like that, you'd have to make us understand the cake-decorating world. But, if the details seemed sketchy, or something seemed "off" about it, I can understand a reader asking, "why are you writing this," meaning why are you placing it in this particular world? If the answer is that you and your sister and mother have been involved in this world for years, and some crazy things go on, then that's great. But if the answer is something along the lines of that you just thought it would be a cool setting, and once you met someone who was kind of odd and was a cake decorator, and you thought it would appeal to a lot of people, given that so many people watch Cake Boss these days, that might not be enough. So, they *might* have been asking you why you're writing your particular story in a particular way.

    Overall, however, the pure joy of writing a story is sufficient reason to write one. Another sufficient reason is simply "because I have to," or "I can't not write it." In fact, writing a story specifically to impart some kind of allegorical meaning or deep message is a pretty good method to write a terrible story.
     
  6. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    Re: Why are you writing this?

    There is more than one way this question can be interpreted.

    The first is the one that has already been addressed: the purpose of the writing. In this context it's perfectly fine not to have a specific reason for writing it. If you want to write just for fun then just tell them that. A second interpretation is the context chicagoliz brought up: the reason why you've chosen to write that particular story.

    Personally, when I ask the question "why are you writing this?" I am referring to the second context. I'm around filmmakers and musicians every single day and people will often bounce their ideas off me. When they ask for my opinion I will usually ask them questions - and one I always make a point of asking is why they've chosen that idea. Why not something else? Why do they have the desire to see that one particular idea come to life? In this context it is a question of what draws you to the story; it's not just a question of purpose.
     
  7. Anthony Martin
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    Anthony Martin Active Member

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    If I'm going to be asking this question at all, which is rare, I'm going to be asking and answering for myself. If the answer is pure entertainment, the answer is pure entertainment; if it is coping, it is coping. At times, those answers might help me to understand where I stand in a creative sense.

    I do think that there are situations where the answer to this question is useful in a more pragmatic sense. For example, I've rushed through "final" drafts of short stories and creative non-fiction just to make submission deadlines despite the fact that the work wasn't ready. Not one of those rushed submissions was accepted or published. It's been working out better now that I've recommitted to the craft and started writing for myself again.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i don't see it as a very useful question, either... if it's a good, well-written story, why should it matter what the reason for writing it was?...
     
  9. jeepea
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    jeepea Member

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    I wonder if the source of this question isn't related to how literature is taught in schools. Teachers tend to zoom in on theme and meaning, dissecting stories like frogs, leaving little time for promoting the joys of reading a book. I've met a number of people over the years who think they can't start writing unless they have some earth shaking truth to tell the world, believing that's what a writer does. Perhaps the OP has been talking to writers who carry this burden and become confused or even embarrassed that he don't have such noble goals.

    To the OP: As has already been mentioned, you'll be happiest and most successful by writing for yourself. The larger purpose of your story, if there is one, will reveal itself as your stories come to life. The worst thing you can do is to write in a way that brings you no joy. Forget how or why other people write. Have fun with your writing and the rest will follow.
     
  10. nastyjman
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    nastyjman Contributing Member

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    As what previous posters had stated, the initial inception of the story should flow out like you're weaving a dream. Forcing symbolism, allegory and theme into your first draft might look too contrived.

    That's the beauty of the second draft. You read through the first draft, and you start to pick out symbolism that you may have not realized when you wrote your piece. You'll also find an underlying theme, and, if you so choose, rewriting will exhume that theme.
     
  11. Sunny1000
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    Sunny1000 Member

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    "Because I want to, problem?" ^_____^

    If you have a story to tell, do it.

    If you love writing and find joy, pleasure, fulfillment and happiness in it, do it.

    If you just want your writing to entertain people, do it.

    Just because your writing may not be deconstructed by literary experts or have deep, analytical meaning, that doesn't mean your writing is going to be crap.

    I love The Very Hungry Caterpillar and while it is a children's picture book about a caterpillar eating I love it. I love superheroes and comics where all they are doing is "catching the bad guy", this doesn't mean they are rubbish. People love to read for pleasure's sake, so just add to that pleasure by telling a great story.
     
  12. AshleyFinn
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    AshleyFinn Member

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    I don't think it's doomed. If your purpose is to be entertained, then entertain. Readers will see your work for what it is. They will see through you if you attempt fraudulent tactics, so be careful.
     
  13. rodney adams
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    rodney adams Member

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    Thank you all, Your insight has been very helpful!
     
  14. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    Just tell them, "Because you're not."
     

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