Friday, August 13, 2010

Formulaic Writing

I confess, I'm an old curmudgeon. I posted the following remark on a piece by Weronika Janczuk during WriteOnCom. I'd love to hear your opinion.

"I'm disturbed by the conviction there can only be a single focal thread. Life is complicated, and it is rich with undercurrents. That fiction can't be as vivid as reality is ridiculous. To press that a well-written story can't be a blend of plots annoys me. It is naïve and pompous, and a lazy premise."

I said I'm a curmudgeon. Writing is art. It doesn't follow physical laws and predictable constants.

Weronika is clearly well-educated and experienced, but her formulaic approach troubled me. Education should create an aptitude for what is possible, not constrict our writing into a generic form. A stylistic diagram can certainly aid in developing structure where there is none. I'm concerned about formula destroying the art.

Write Every Day!

Regards, Mac


  1. Interesting. I didn't see Weronika's piece, but I think I would have to agree with you about formula. Maybe I just hate to be forced into a mold.

  2. Hi Mac,

    Perhaps you misunderstood the entire purpose of my piece. Writers need to learn the formulas in order to appropriately surpass them. I'm afraid that in 98% of submissions that I read, manuscripts aren't strong enough because they're missing necessary elements of plot and pacing.

    I'm all for breaking the mold and I always urge writers not to write to a formula if they feel they can handle the basic elements of plot. Those writers, though, are very talented and very rare.

    I appreciate your disagreement.

  3. Hi Weronika

    I appreciate you visiting my blog to rebut my concern. Your explanation in your comment was excellent, but the use of the formula as a starting point didn’t come across in your presentation (to me).

    We’ll disagree with the concept that a good story requires only a single, strong plot.


    Thanks for your time and participation with WriteOnCon!