The Question Every Writer Should Ask

It is well known and widely accepted that writers are creative. After all, it is our vivid imaginations that enable us to create colorful stories from the sterility of a white page.  These narratives are born from our mind’s eye, which sees the world not in its literal existence but rather in a fictionalized version.

It is a writer’s nature to tilt what we see daily and commonly so that we may call attention to oppression, prejudice, and unfairness as well as focus on joy, kindness, and compassion. It is our inclination to fix our lens in such a manner that our readers can view humanity through a clearer and wider scope.

We do this by modifying, altering, and tampering with the truth. Our characters are only versions of real people. Our stories are only accounts of real stories. We embellish, exaggerate, and enhance what we see, hear, and know.

We are not lying. We are not deceitful. Instead, we are purposeful in our creativity. We know that it’s necessary for us to add color to our fictionalized worlds in order to show there is seldom black and white in the real one. We shade and tint our stories to highlight that people are often unable to see the dark places because they ignore them for the safety of the light.

As writers, we have a unique perception of the world that allows us to invent stories from seemingly nothing. However, our observations can also cause us to form erroneous opinions and draw the wrong conclusions from our misperception and quickly made assumptions. It’s a common pitfall of all people.

It’s easy, isn’t it? We all have done it; we all do it. We see someone and we assume we know them. Our opinions, which are often strong and set, are usually based on a superficial examination of a person we hardly know.

We see the smiling woman with the seemingly perfectly behaved children and we assume she has it all together. We see the suited up man with the confident stride and we take for granted that he must be smart and successful.

Many don’t “see” beyond the façade and, sadly, many don’t look. We feel comfortable in our assumptions, and so we begin to accept them as true regardless of the unfairness to the individual being judged.

What we should all remember is that the truth about someone cannot be known in a moment’s glance or determined in a second’s conclusion.

To truly “know” someone is to understand them, and that can only be done once we have taken the time to ask them questions and listen to their story. So…

What is the question every writer should ask?

Every writer should ask, “What’s your story?” Of course, the execution of this query should be much more eloquently and subtly posed, but it should be asked nonetheless.

Writers are not just creative beings we are also inquisitive ones. We must hone this aspect of our talent so that our curiosity can bring truth to the color of our imagination.

It is my belief that everyone has a story worth telling just not everyone has someone to tell it. So if you are so privileged as to tell someone’s story, give them the respect to truly know them and their life.

It is only when we ask the right questions that the answers can not only provide us, as writers, but also the readers with the knowledge, insight, and beauty of the human condition.

Write on, friends.

Thank you for reading. I look forward to your comments.





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About Sherry Parnell