How to Write a Book, Part 4

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When it comes to my thoughts on story-telling I’m speaking primarily as a practitioner — not as a theorist.

And while I am both a writer and a speaker, I’m definitely a speaker who writes and not a writer who speaks. I imagine this has a lot to do with how I look at things.

One thing every speaker knows, you must have the end in mind when you tell a story.

Having the end in mind gives focus and momentum to your stories. Without those you tend to meander — and nothing causes you to lose an audience faster than meandering.

Wait!, you say, some of the best speakers meander. Yes, but they meander purposefully. They know how to hide their ends or they have many smaller ends in mind which contribute to a larger end. (By the way, I just illustrated purposeful meandering.)

Back to the point.

Once you know where you’re going you have a principle to discipline your story. It is the principle of selection. Everything must come under that principle and submit to it. If something helps the telling of the story, it stays, if not, it goes.

Won’t that make stories little more than barebones accounts? Where is the suspense? Where is the drama and character development?

That’s what separates the men from the boys — the women from the girls! That’s what I’ll talk about tomorrow.

Morty

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