Good Story Is Not Good Writing

I’m in a graduate screenwriting workshop right now, and every single workshop something happens which makes me cringe.

Invariably somebody will bring in a script packed with grammatical errors, passive voice, cliched similes, tense shifts and labored sentence structure.  But the workshop group teases out the story.  We discover a world where animals want so badly to be human they risk dangerous and horrifying surgeries.  We meet a boy who keeps the shriveled fetus – his conjoined twin brother that doctors surgically removed from his abdomen – in a jar under his bed…and talks to it.  We find we are entertained, involved. We generally understand the story as enjoyable.

Then, inescapably, inevitably, somebody will say, “This was really well written.”

And I want to scream.

But I only cringe.  Then I go home, curl up on the floor clutching a copy of Lolita, and cry myself into blissful unconsciousness.

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One Response to “Good Story Is Not Good Writing”

  1. Kristina Says:

    Nice post–I feel your pain. I was a writing tutor for 3 years in college, and I’m shocked to see how incapable people are when it comes to any kind of composition. It’s like they’ve never read anything before. *sigh*

    Don’t even get me started on fiction workshops. Ugh.

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