Yesterday I was fortunate enough to be invited on a friend's yacht. I was talking about my book to an acquaintance. We were talking about one of the most basic elements of a good story. Disasters.
I told her that disasters occur at the end of most scenes. And if a scene did end on a positive note, a win for our hero, a disaster would quickly follow.
She was taken aback. And she's well read. "Pollyanna is boring," she said.
Now, I was surprised she didn't know this. Because I took this basic story element for granted. All good writers know this, however.
So why am I posting this? Because I spend so much time hiding writing techniques, making sure different story elements work undercover like a secret agent.
When you watch an Olympic ice skater perform, you don't see every single technique, the thousands of hours of practice, and the relentless coaching. What you see is greatness.
Not that I want to neglect the practice of making my writing seamless, effortless. But people are totally more concerned with a story being good. Whether they can see the technique used, doesn't matter. Does your story have passion? Heart?
I read an interview of top editors from different major publishing houses. They said one of the worst things they faced were stories that were technically written well, but lacked heart. At that point they couldn't tell the writer what to do.
Ask yourself. What is the purpose of your story? What is the message you're trying to convey?
Take Matrix. The message is simple. Anything is possible if you believe in yourself.