On Writing

Anyone can write. Anyone can tell a story.
But what is it to effective writing? (or effective storytelling?)

Every story, every piece needs a point, a moral, a takeaway.

What is it that after reading my story someone knows more of, definitively, than before they had read it?

That, is the question. It is a simple rule. As simple as “buy low, sell high”.

Everyone who sets out to write something knows that the other person takes something away from it. That they have a little movie or painting in their imagination after reading it.

This is such a general rule that it applies not just to fiction but non-fiction as well. It also, obviously, applies to any media.

I cannot tell you all the rules. I have come to understand this fact conciously only recently myself.

However, there are some things that do stand out to me. The things that I only came to confront when I had lost that subconsious understanding of what made writing worth reading.

One thing, I call it “convergence”.

What is convergence?

Think of it as tying a knot on a single piece of string. (making a loop)

The one end of this string is the “protagonist” and the other is, obviously, the “antagonist”. The protagonist can be an actual protagonist or it can be little pieces of information that lead to a whole.

To clarify, let’s assume that you’re writing a mobile phone review.

(I take that very technical and non-fictional example on purpose)

The protagonist in this setting is you. You’re revealing bits of information to make a whole to the antagonist, the mystery of the conclusion, the idea of the phone.

Just like the point of a clash or climax is for the protagonist and the antagonist to tell their side of the story and make their own justifications to provide a “whole” to the onlooker.

Your purpose as the writer is to make the audience familiar and unravel this mystery and conquer your foe so that they are left with information in whole. There aren’t any loose ends. You concluded well, you covered all the pros and cons. With this little piece, now the onlooker can make a better judge of what is best for them out there in the phone market.

I chose the name, “convergence”, for a purpose. Two intersecting lines converge at a point. That point is that takeaway that you lead to through your writing.

You should imagine any writing as converging to a point as the protagonist and antagonist get closer and closer to meet a final climax.

I could elaborate more, but perhaps those can come at a later date. It should be obvious how it applies to a fictional setting.

The other thing that makes any story worth anyone’s time is coherence.

Non-coherence may be good in the start of any story, but this non-coherence must be looked at as something to be made clear, to overcome, to explain and make coherent eventually (and perhaps even keep going on after that, it is your story).

Even if it is “up to the reader to interpret”, you must give the reader rules for imagination. That, ultimately, also requires coherence.

Any piece of writing will always require these rules. These rules can be said to be “internal consistency”.

If it is fiction that you’re writing then this is simple to understand. Tie loose ends, do not leave plot holes. Do not break the rules of your world without a reasonable explanation.

(unless your story is going to be mind-blowingly amazing with a rule break, just do not break the rules, operate within those rules as constraints)

Coherence also means that your story should not be a rant. It should not be this fractal of a piece that veers off into a thousand tangents to tell everyone’s story to make sense of the root of it.

You can explain someone else’s reasoning in a concise summary with “show, not tell” styled techniques without becoming an incoherent mess.

For example, it is enough to show that a character is fasctinated by an urban environment to give justification for their more rural or rustic mannerisms and reveal information about them only when it makes sense for the story.

You don’t need to go off on a whole mess of a tirade either from the character’s point of view or from making a part of your story (like visiting their village for little reason) just to make their backstory clear. It also makes no sense for this character to be expository about their lifestyle when it makes no sense.

These aren’t ingredients that you can put in, but rather the markers of good writing when it is done.

You cannot add in convergence, you cannot add in coherence. You can only add in more characters, more environments, more worldliness.

You cannot add in concepts.

A lot of new stories are nonsensical primarily because of the way they build their worlds or stories in such a containerised fashion. They’ll keep adding cheap laughs and characters that justify their whole plot.

“Ohh… umm, now that I read it, it does lack a bit of humour and everyone’s doing that now. I know, I’ll just drop in this maniacal joker in this bar that my character visits that he is forced to entertain and also I’ll make these villains look like they have such comical motivations despite starting off so menacingly. Nice!”

“Everything looks fine, but I really lack a love interest… How about a hot huntress that will turn out to be a great childhood familial foe that my character meets in a jungle somewhere and turns out that my character had heard of her family name and that will explain everything and make sense and then they fight but fall in love and all this happens halfway into the story where my character has been established to usually not be like this but now this lady changes everything!”


These are usually signs that you need to look out for as a thought pattern that you may start engaging in when writing.

For the second little monologous paragraph as a mocking example, one could control their temptation and stay on track and do a much more thought out path for how their character has been set in the story. You could add in a love interest, you could. But you have to do it in a way that makes sense with the background.

I hope that there is some takeaway in this. It would be ironical if there isn’t. It is easier said than done but keeping just these two things in mind can set you apart and make a better writer than most.

Remember, in a time of bad writing all around, you can compete much easier if you just get the basics right. There are a lot of formulaic writers out there selling books and for the little audience that they have picked up in the process (sometimes it is actually pretty sizeable), their audience critiques them much less than some of the ones that try to break rules all the time when it doesn’t even make sense.

Breaking rules should be a relief, a contrast. Not the rule.