Writing Free


“You’ve written this scene correctly but you’ve lost all the feeling of the original.”

I inwardly cringed as I read the feedback from my latest writing assignment. I’d worked really hard on this one. I’d applied everything I’d been learning to the rewriting of my first scene and somehow still managed to miss the mark. I scanned the document, taking in the rest of the suggestions and comments. She was right. The scene held all the emotion of a research paper. It was my last lesson for her class. She’d been a wonderful teacher and I’d really wanted to write this one especially well.

“As your final, non-binding assignment, I’d like you to go back and add in some of the emotion you had at first.”

I read the last words she’d written again and then again. The original scene was something I’d written before I’d taken any classes. It was raw and terrible and she’d liked it.

A week later I decided to pull out the scene and do as she’d asked. At first it was hard. I felt like I was going against everything I’d learned but after a while I found myself loosening up. I sort of felt like a kid who’d just been handed the keys to Chuck E. Cheese. I was free!

When I finally hit save, I was amazed at how differently it read. Sure, there were probably things that were technically wrong with it but the emotion was back. It was no longer a research paper but a real story. It’s been a while since that lesson but it’s one I’ve kept with me. My writing doesn’t have to be “Perfect.” It’s kind of a freeing thought, isn’t it?

“Stop worrying so much about the rules of fiction and start focusing on mesmerizing your audience.”  Jeff Gerke

What stops you from writing freely?


About Brittany Valentine

Saved by grace, sibling one of eight, part-timer by day, speculative fiction writer by night. Working on a series called The Chronicles of Aura.

8 comments on “Writing Free

  1. I think that’s a process all us new writers go through as we gone our craft. I’d written stories for years, but when I wanted to write for publication, I spent two years studying advice and writing according to committee. After two years, I realized that all the stuff I knew intuitively about storytelling was what all that advice had been trying to say. I threw out 90 percent of what I had read, kept the 10 that worked for me, and went nuts.

  2. “Rules” are always better viewed as principles instead. I think you have come to realize this and it’s refreshing to hear your recounting of your experience. Single-person so-called “Deep POV” (which did not exist 20 years ago, it’s only about 12-15 years old) is useful as a principle, useLESS as a “rule.” It depends on the genre and what you want the reader to feel and to see. I cite this as but one example. It works brilliantly for certain types of stories (character-driven by a single character) but is ludicrous when applied to a mass battle involving dozens/hundreds of people. No one single person is going to see it all. But the reader needs to, in order to achieve the author’s maximum desired emotional impact. “Sure, there were probably things that were technically wrong with it but the emotion was back.” I love the way you put that. Slavish subservience to the “rules” does that to you. Emotion is critical, it’s what keeps people reading. For freedom then the Lord has set you free in your writing. Stand fast therefore! Great post!

    • Thanks! I’m so glad I studied writing, I’m still studying, but I’m also trying not to be such a perfectionist. 🙂

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