Check out this great article by K. M. Weiland, readers:
5 Ways Writers (Try to) Fake Their Way to Good Storytelling
Last week, I found a meme on Pinterest that showed someone dispensing two different soft drinks into the same cardboard cup. One of the drink buttons was labeled “Feeling stressed out when writing” and the other was labeled “Feeling stressed out when you haven’t written.”
It’s funny because it’s true. The writing life is constantly high-tension. Every moment we spend writing (and many that we do not) comes with the demand that we remember and successfully execute dozens of different concepts. It’s no wonder the stress occasionally gets to us! (Pour me another soft drink, please.)
In these moments of distraction or exhaustion (or, let’s admit it, sometimes just laziness), we don’t always give the page our all. We stick a half-cooked beat between two more important scenes. We doublespeak our way past technical inaccuracies. Or we not-so-deftly create a smokescreen to disguise a character’s less-than-authentic emotional evolution.
We all do it. I’ve done every single one of those things in every single book I’ve written—always hoping no one will notice. And sometimes they don’t. But it’s never something I’m proud of (i.e., haha, look what I got away with!). Rather, it’s always something that niggles at me once a book passes its grunt stage and starts cooling in post-publication.
It niggles because all these dodges point to the even more telling shortcut of faking it.
Fortunately for us, the sheer size and complexity of most narrative stories usually provides the cover of enough moving parts to distract from those few scenes where we painted in the mountains instead of going on location. Most readers will either miss or excuse the occasional moment of fakery.
But insofar as artistic integrity is important, we must guard against the temptation to just phone in our writing. The better we get at not phoning it in—at not faking it—the better our stories will become.