Oftentimes, when I’m writing, it’s easy to lose sight of the important questions. I get wrapped up in my ideas, my self-prescribed brilliance, my ego. By holding too tight to what I’m making, I prevent the story from becoming what it wants to be.
With storytelling, the simplest question is this: what happens?
When we recount the events of our lives for one another, a question like this is easy: This happens because that happened, so then this happened.
This isn’t always easy when you’re a writer, concocting people and events out of nowhere. When we look to our influences, to our inspiration, we so often remember how we feel. There’s that quote about how we won’t remember exactly what the people in our lives say to us, but we’ll remember how they make us feel. The same is true of stories–we remember how a great book or movie made us feel, even if we don’t remember what happens in the story.
As a result, when we sit down to write, we’re often chasing what we want our audience to feel, instead of focusing on telling a story.
Feelings are the byproduct of action, never the end goal themselves. Just as no one goes to the theater to watch an actor have feelings, no one reads a book to have the author express their emotions.
We read books to find out what happens.