Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Writing Advice from Frank Herbert: Concentrate on story

I agree completely with Frank Herbert (whose ground-breaking book Dune was rejected by publishers 20 times, by the way.)

Story is everything.

Though Herbert is giving this advice to beginners, it is something published writers need to keep in mind as well, especially as they launch into experimental forms. Stories need to have a beginning, a middle and an end - although not necessarily in chronological order.

And, like Ray Bradbury, Herbert believed that metaphor lay at the heart of a novel.

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Writing advice from Frank Herbert, originally published in WotF Vol 2:

The single most important piece of advice I ever got was to concentrate on story. What is “story”? It’s the quality that keeps the reader following the narrative. A good story makes interesting things happen to a character with whom the reader can identify. And it keeps them happening, so that the character progresses and grows in stature.

A writer’s job is to do whatever is necessary to make the reader want to read the next line. That’s what you’re supposed to be thinking about when you're writing a story. Don’t think about money, don’t think about success; concentrate on the story—don’t waste your energy on anything else. That all takes care of itself, if you’ve done your job as a writer. If you haven’t done that, nothing helps.

I first heard this from literary agent Lurton Blassingame, a highly respected expert on successful storytellers and storytelling. He’s a man who’s been watching writers’ careers and building writers’ for decades. And I have heard essentially the same thing from many other successful figures in writing; some of the top writers in the world have said it. It is the best advice I can give beginners.”

—Frank Herbert

2 comments:

  1. Informative blog, so much so I bookmarked it for future reference. I have been concentrating on my online stores, my own blogs and when the the new year starts I am going ba k to fiction writing and will schedule a publishing date when what I have written has been polished to the point where it is ready to be published.

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