But why did they do that? [writing]

The Protagonist is always right.
The Protagonist is always right. (Photo credit: tsuihin – TimoStudios)

Yesterday’s rejection has gotten me to thinking. I’ve been of a mind that there is something missing in my writing, something I couldn’t quite put my fingers on, and the comment that the main character “meandered” really hits the nail on the head here. While there’s no shortage of things happening, there is something fundamentally missing: why? Call it what you want – character motivation, plot, conflict, it all comes down to the same missing ingredient. With rare exception, my stories (at least the recent ones) are missing a motivating why. Why did the protagonist start down this path? Why is the bad guy (where relevant) bad? Why is any of it happening? Instead, what I’m left with is an entertaining, often adventurous, travelogue, albeit one set in the future, or a fantasy world, or in the wake of a Kaiju attack. (OK, maybe a story set in the wake of a Kaiju attack would have by definition be filled with why’s, but that’s beside the point.)

You wouldn’t think this would be so hard to realize or solve, but here I am, stories in the wild (as it were) and having a crisis of faith in my stories.

Open call – I know some of you out there are writers, too. Ever find yourself stuck in the sequence of “action events without a real plot” quagmire? I imagine like any addictive problem, the first step is acknowledging you have a problem. How do you take that second step?


Happy Saturday, folks!

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One thought on “But why did they do that? [writing]”

  1. Thank you for the pingback. Much appreciated.
    I know exactly what you mean about the ‘why’ business. It is very easy to write what is essentially an anecdotal piece which goes nowhere.
    It’s the old chestnut of the ‘w’ questions: Who, what, when, where, and the biggie: why? It’s easy to forget the why and we’re not the only ones who do it. I occasionally watch a play film or television programme where this essential question is left out.

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