How to write the perfect story

For those who are too impatient to find out more (a.k.a. TL;DR): Forget it. The perfect story doesn’t exist.

Even before I started writing I adored the work of 2 people. Ray Bradbury and Neil Gaiman. Both have (and had, since Mr Bradbury is no long with us) a similar attitude to writing.

Basically it’s this:

The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.

–Neil Gaiman
Ray Bradbury

Both Ray Bradbury and Neil Gaiman write the kind of stories I like to read. I devour their work and immediately after finishing one I’m ready to dive into it again. Yes, even the same story. They are good. For me.

It is through them that I had the courage to start writing and, in the end, actually publish what my mind had come up with. Now they both never wrote naturist fiction, but they are and were masters of fantasy and science fiction.

Neil Gaiman

Both of those are my favourite genres to read and, as some of you may know, also to write. For me, these people are heroes in paving the way to writing about uncharted lands. Nothing is too wild if you can keep one foot in the believable world, in the reality we all know and (at times) love.

I’ve also had the good fortune to “run into” Robert and Will. They too write good stories; stories that deserve to be devoured several times. There is always something more, something deeper to discover when I read the same lines as I did before.

writing in the nude

I don’t dare to presume my writing is as good as that of any of the gentlemen I mentioned. I tell my stories as best I can, and that will have to do.

And before someone throws this into the arena: no, I am not on purpose leaving out female writers. There are plenty of them who have influenced my writing too, like Ursula LeGuin and Gail Carriger, both non-naturist fiction writers, but I ‘met’ them later, after my basic writing form had been shaped. And that is good. We can’t all write like others do. That would make all writing the same and therefore boring, and if there is one thing I truly detest, it’s uniformity and boring.

3 thoughts on “How to write the perfect story”

  1. I have to stop comparing myself to the authors I read, especially those whom I read a lot growing up (Edgar Rice Burroughs and Stephen King). I just have to write the best book I can in my own authentic voice. I was reading “Blood Meridian” not too long ago and just had to marvel at the way it was written. There was a scene of such graphic violence and carnage that if I tried to write it, people would just call it gross and gratuitous. But Cormac McCarthy had written it with such power and poetry that I just had to marvel at it. How could something so ugly be written so beautifully?

    But I am not Cormac McCarthy. I also agree that the perfect story doesn’t exist. But we do the best we can…

    1. That is so true. We do what we can, and with each story, each sentence, we try to improve. It’s senseless to achieve the greatness of others. Achieving our own is the best we can aim for. 🙂
      Happy new year, Dan!

  2. Great advice, Paul! Bradbury was a huge influence on me growing up, especially his The Halloween Tree. I only recently discovered Gaiman and devoured American Gods. There’s always much to be learned from reading widely, but in the end we do the best we can as individuals. And I think you’re exactly right – that’s what makes it unique.

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