The other day I was nosing around online and came across a message posted from a writer who asked, â€œwhen do you know a story is any good? How do you know if its worth pursuing?â€
For me, it’s gut instinct. If the characters come to life and refuse to go away until I finish their story, then I know this is a journey I have to complete. I don’t judge if the story is “good” or “bad.” My agent does that for me. How I feel is that every story and character who has come into my life has done so for a reason.
Right after I turned in In Between Men (waaay back in September 2004), I wrote a drama about two sisters who never knew the other existed until their father was diagnosed with cancer. I loved the characters Dori and Sela, but the story was so so. I talked to my agent about it and she asked me what I was doing writing a heavy-handed drama when I’ve been publishing comedies? Unfortunately, she has an annoying tendency to be right and that story has since become an organ donor.
But I missed those sisters. Five or six months later, I was at a wedding and while eavesdropping on a conversation, found the story for Sela and Dori. Next month, “Till Death Do Us Part” will be inflicted on the reading public in Names I Call My Sister.
I’m not sure if I successfully answered this question. Perhaps some stories are meant to slip by the gatekeepers, or others are just the long way around to the real thing.
So I ask you: how do you know if your story is “good enough”?
When my inner BS buzzer stops going off at something my character’s say or do, I figure it’s safe to send to fabulous people (with a critical eye) who can tell me if it truly sucks or not. 🙂
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