Coffee Share 190202



This is a Weekly Coffee Share hosted by: Eclectic Alli.

Alli manages a weekly list of posts from any who want to just stay in touch, chat about blogging, writing, travel, photography, children, pets, work, life hacks or just about anything else that might be of interest.

Here’s the link for last week.

Here’s the link for this week.

Ah, here you are again – wonderful!  Come in; sit down and enjoy the warmer morning that we expected. I’m very pleased that you stopped by.  Leave me the means to do so and I’ll try to stop by your place as well.

I want to close off a topic I mentioned a few weeks back, then changed my decision about due to the arrival of a story idea that would not be denied and how it all turned out.

I was exhausted from work and holiday busyness when January arrived and decided to just take it off for formal writing.  That story arriving late in the month kind-of got me going again.  It with a couple of other smaller items came together to give me the second best month I’ve ever had and it just felt so good.  My readers (most likely you were among them) have been very kind, complimentary and encouraging.

The surprise best viewed in one month (one week actually) was: “Of Crashes and Christmas“.  It will only take you about 10 minutes and may leave you with a great gift idea for use later.

plot formulaWhen I first decided to try and write down the stories that were clawing for escape from my head, one of the earliest decisions I wanted to settle on was to not find and exploit a formula in my story telling.  Somehow, in my amateur mind, this killed the reason for writing in the first place.  I felt the best stories I’d either read or heard did not feel like a formula was used.  I’ve read plenty of stories that clearly used a formula of some kind and, as a reader, it felt like the writer was just filling out a template resulting in a piece that was both predictable and unsatisfying.

Once I quipped to a favorite writing teacher in college how I would be tempted to sue Reader’s Digest (RD) if they ever tried to publish one of my works (I really did not understand the industry at all) but think about anything you both read the original to and then the Readers Digest version of the same story.

love storyMy youthful arrogance was rooted from a high school experience when the gang of book lovers (and plain great friends) all read Erich Segal’s, 1970 short novel, “Love Story”.  As a teenage boy – my first reaction was that there was nothing wrong with the story that a few explosions or near-Earth astrophysical phenomenon couldn’t fix, but the girls in our group disagreed and argued me down to where I had to admit that Mr. Segal had produced a pretty gripping and entertaining story.  “There!  Are you happy now?”

RD condensed bksNot to many months later, someone found the RD version of Love Story and passed it around for reading and comment.  Wow – what a change!  Yea, the story was still there, but compared to the original work, RD had made the story accessible to literate 5th graders by ripping the soul out of the novel.  There was almost no defense raised in our group.  We were harder on RD than what we normally dished out to the makers of movies from great books.

My college writing teacher, a well published writer herself, briefed me on why most writers covet being selected by RD for lobotomization.  Okay – okay, she didn’t exactly put it that way, but she had some good points mainly, RD in one edition could expose your writing more readers than most writers would otherwise have access to in their whole lifetime.  Not a worthless point, I agree, but you know – they only sorta use “your writing”.  Her eyebrows dropped toward the top of her nose and I knew it was time to let this point just go.  I was there to learn from her, not the other way around.

As I begin to wind down my current writing project of creating and sharing my non-formula,  no RD-styling, already short, playfully autobiographical, uniquely voiced, historical essays and begin to plan out my next project, I’m trying to find that balance point of writing to satisfy both myself and a healthy wide audience.

The formula approach clearly has something going for it.  I’ve read lots of decent stories where one was used, and (in fairness) have been confused and frustrated when some writer ignored all conventions and apparently just dove in without a plan.


I’m trying not to be “that artist” who will not accept the lessons of the past or avoid all possible new inspiration, but surely this tug of war finds a peaceful balance somehow.

How did you resolve it?

Okay February – I think I’m ready for you now.

Have a great week all.

To select another story, please visit the full index by clicking here.

Gary photo n bio

4 thoughts on “Coffee Share 190202

  1. Hmm, perhaps a focus on your writer’s voice and clarity of storytelling is a better then worrying about formulas. Write the story, have readers give you an honest assessment then write it again.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think part of the reason why formulas work is because people (especially this younger generation) need to have an idea of what to expect; they lack the imagination to go without a formula. The trick as a writer is to find a way to make the formula not feel like a formula.

    Liked by 1 person

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