Hi Simon,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Much appreciated. I think we're on the same page, really.

The inspiration for this story came out of my frustration as an editor, seeing the same boilerplate MSS landing in my inbox week after week. There's value in studying the best of the structural templates. But once you've got the general idea of story structure, it's better to ditch the template and work from character.

You know, the problem I see too often is lazy writing. Some aspiring novelist has forked out too many dollars for an eBook, or an email course, or a template or whatever, put together by a marketer who has never written a line of prose in their life and whose sole purpose is to transfer the 'aspirant writer dollar' from the writer's pocket into their own.

The writer then "fills in the blanks" to produce a plot--which may lack story entirely--and they write it up and send it off, or worse just self-publish it. But it's nowhere near ready for anyone to read.

So, I guess, this is my counter to that. Plot matters, but it comes out of story, and story comes out of character. The trend to emphasize plotting and plot structure undermines that truth and gets everything the wrong way round.

By the way, several of the best writers I know start with the ending; or they write up the key scenes and then work within that framework. But their focus is always on letting the character/s lead the action, drive the plot, and realize their inner motivations, etc.

Thanks again for your response.

Austin is a professional writer and editor. Skeptical about everything else, he believes in kindness. Here, he shares sensible advice for serious writers.

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