Writing Secrets: It’s not boring to write “small”

 In Jo-Anne Richard's blog, The secrets behind the practice of good writing, Tips for Writers

One of the participants in our Creative Writing Course responded to a dialogue exercise recently with a scene containing a domestic argument between newlyweds.

It was riveting – and raw. One half of the couple had moved countries for love of the other, and was restricted by the lack of a work permit. One could sense the love between these two, but also the frustration and resentment, which flared into this fight.

“I’m sorry,” my writing student said, as she finished reading. “I used a real argument and I’m afraid it’s dead boring.”

Oh my goodness, what could be less boring? Just because a scene – or a story, for that matter – concerns intimate or particular human concerns, doesn’t mean we aren’t interested. Quite the opposite. We can identify.

All story allows us to rehearse how we’ll live our own lives. We may not have found ourselves in exactly the situation of that couple, but we do understand how the logistics of living our lives in the modern world can come between us and the people we love most.

When you write, focus on the particular. From that, we extrapolate. Just as a picture of one dead child can bring home to us the situation of thousands of stranded migrants, so one argument between newlyweds can show us the human condition.

So, if you choose to write small, don’t apologise for it. Don’t write it apologetically, or rush it, assuming that people will find it boring. Give it all the dramatic weight it deserves.

It will speak to us of issues we all face, in trying to live our lives the best way we can.

Read Richard’s latest blog: ‘Monday Motivation: A new form of fiction for the age?

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