As nice as it is, I got tired of posting that huge graphic from PBJPublishing.com. So, I split it up into its individual pieces. One of these days, I’ll go back and fix the images from earlier posts. And if you ever do want to see the entire image in all its glory, check out the original on PBJPublishingcom’s website. From now on, I’ll just be posting the cropped version of the graphic for each rule. Oh, and if you want an index of these posts so far, check out my Tips page.
Here’s what #18 looks like separated from its brethren:
You have to know yourself: The difference between doing your best and fussing. Story is testing, not refining.
I have to admit, this one has me stumped. I’m guessing it has something to do with the core message or tone you want to impart to your readers, regardless of the story.
Is it: good conquers evil? Or is it: life’s a bitch, deal with it?
For my part, as a writer, I know that I’ve had to ask myself that question many times, and in the end I’ve decided that my stories should reflect who I am. And that means, for the most part, I think humans are fallible, but ultimately good. Mind you, I know there are bad people and true evil in the world, but I believe most people, no matter their background, upbringing, and acceptable cultural/moral beliefs, are good.
Whether that ‘good’ includes basic human rights is an entirely different matter. I mean, for example, in the 1800s, most plantation owners/families in the southern United States owned slaves, and treated them like livestock, but given the acceptable norms of that society, no one would have said those plantation owners were bad (i.e. evil) – except the abolitionist, but let’s not go there.
The point is, even if most folks are not, I think most people think they are good, however they define good.
Not everyone has that world view. I know several authors who think that sentiment naive, and that humans are essentially self-centered, greedy and will screw you if given the opportunity. Any good that comes out of life is pure happenstance.
Yikes. Remind me not to invite them over for dinner…
Anyway, those writers have very different outlooks on life and human nature than I. And when I read their works, that general outlook permeates their writing. Their stories are dark, their protagonists struggle against a foreboding world or circumstances, and, frankly, they are self-centered, concerned with saving their own asses and damn everyone else.
This can make for good fiction, and I’m not saying I don’t like that kind of fiction. I do, but that’s not the fiction I want to write. My characters are good (in my sense of good) and they generally struggle against their poor decisions and the conflicting goals of people in their lives.
I imagine this rule is cautioning writers to know who they are before they approach a story. To do otherwise can result in insincere words on the page, and not a good story.
But I could be wrong.
What do you all think this rule means?