Monday, July 30, 2012

The Story is in the Grit

I am taking this wise information from a blog post by Bassam Tarazi on and relating it to the writing journey, both for the writer and her story. 
Few people, or agents, or editors want to read a story about someone who has everything handed to them, who never struggles, who doesn’t evolve, and who when they touch something it turns to gold? (Yes, there is that story and it was very successful, but it wasn’t until the King suffered that the reader began to care.) 

The reason we aren’t as interested in these my life-is-so-good stories is because we all want our own reassurances that we are not failures because we don’t know all the answers and we struggle to find them.
We want to be inspired by someone who has overcome the obstacles, leapt over hurdles or straddled the abyss, gone through the wrong door. Because without struggle, wrong choices, mistakes where do the lessons learned come from?  Where does growth, change and a new perspective come from?
So don’t be kind to your characters. Don’t make it too easy for them. We’ve all heard make your character suffer. Make them take a step forward and then be pushed back two. 

Because when your character is wrestling with life that’s when they need others(characters), to lean on, to vent to, to regroup with, to reset, and then get ready to fight all over again.
We know in life that character and wisdom are sculpted by loss, lessons and triumphs, but this usually comes after doubt, second guessing and facing the unknowns.

This is not only true for our characters but for us as writers.  
Bassam says that “eating a face full of grit every now and then keeps us level and we learn that no honest endeavor is ever a wasted one.” 
He says, “progress in life is directly proportional to the dirt (grit) under our fingernails.” 
Here is a comment that as a writer, I found fascinating and possibly the secret to why I persist in the pursuit of writing as a career. “It has been said that we are at our happiest when we are attempting something difficult but attainable. It is the unknown, yet reachable territory that excites us. It’s a magical place.” 
And here is another gem of wisdom:
(Usefulness of your idea + Luck + Connections) X Grit = Success
Doesn’t that look a lot like the formula to publication?
Our drive to get down the story is our story, and the story is in the grit.
So for both your characters and yourself as a writer, enjoy the grit, use the grit, it will make us better.
As always feel free to comment.


  1. So true! Most of the time when I struggle in a scene it's because everything is too much too pleasant. The scenes where the words just fly off the page are when my characters are in conflict.

    This is where real life and fiction digress - we all want our lives free of conflict but it makes for a boring story.

  2. Maria, thanks for stopping by. That's a good point. I'm going to take a look at those scene that I struggle with and see if that too may be the case.

  3. Replies
    1. I can see that. That's why you're so successful! Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Hmmmmm ... food for thought & musing. I need to go look a little closer at my WIP. Thanks for the post!!

    1. I hear you. Me too! Thanks for stopping by.

  5. Grit is good. Need to file this idea away with all the other good ideas I get on here!

    1. Yeah, I have to remind myself to not be too nice to my characters. Thanks for stopping by.

  6. This is what I was thinking when I wrote about using setting to cause trouble for characters, but any kind of grit will do it. My trouble may be piling it on without making a spot to clean it off.

    1. That's a great point Sheryl, you can't bury your characters so deep that they can't get out without the help of a backhoe. LOL