(Editor’s Note: This post was first published on 28 September 2008.)
Think about it. Every story was already told thousands of years ago. The only thing a writer can do now is to individualize and up date his or her story. So it’s not so much what the story is about as it is about how well the story is written. Once again we come back to technique: viewpoint, description, action, characterization and so forth; where to begin the story and where to end it.
Years ago I had a realization. After a certain period of untold rejection notices I accepted the fact that I was getting rejected because I didn’t write well enough. I knew this because not only couldn’t I get published but my stories didn’t compare well to the stories of the writers that I was reading. In other words, it wasn’t my material; it was my technique.
So I set out to teach myself “how” to write. Because I knew that if I could figure out how to write it wouldn’t matter “what” I wrote about.
So don’t worry about your material. Your material doesn’t matter. It’s your technique that will get you published. And of course once your technique is good enough you can create a publishable story from anything.