Marketing Vs. Story: Which is King? (Plus, Craft the Ultimate Cliche)

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Marketing, marketing, marketing. You hear it from writing books. You hear it from us. You hear it from conferences, published writers at readings and even unpublished writers hanging out on street corners. Sure, it’s important—if not crucial at times—but what should really take precedence when it gets down to the marrow of things? It’s something that’s easy to forget when you’re looking at the macro-view of a writing career.

It’s time for the latest in the Top 20 Lessons from WD in 2009.

No. 16: Story, Story, Story

“Keep the focus on the writing and the story. All the advertising, marketing and promotion in the world are meaningless unless you’ve got a tale people want to read.”
—Author Rhodi Hawk (A Twisted Ladder), as featured in our March/April 2009 issue.

Marketing or story: Which do you think should take precedence?

To complement Hawk’s point, as James Patterson emphasized in that issue, “If it’s commercial fiction that you want to write, it’s story, story, story. You’ve got to get a story where if you tell it to somebody in a paragraph, they’ll go, ‘tell me more.’ And then when you start to write it, they continue to want to read more. And if you don’t, it won’t work.”

In honor of Hawk, Patterson and Story, Story, Story, take today’s prompt and try to decode what makes a truly awful story: Write the most hilariously cliché scene you can. How might analyzing the ins and outs of a tired, tried and true yarn lead you to purge your writing demons and craft a more original story next time?

WRITING PROMPT: Crafting a Cliché
Feel free to take the following prompt home or post your response (500 words or fewer, funny, sad or stirring) in the Comments section below:

Write the most cliché story you can, working as many unbearably overdone elements into the scene as possible.