Write The Story As You Want To, Not How Others Tell You To Write It by Janelle Riley

Write The Story As You Want To, Not How Others Tell You To Write It by Janelle RileyLet’s welcome back monthly columnist Janelle T. Riley as she shares with us “Write The Story As You Want To, Not How Others Tell You To Write It.” Enjoy!


There’s a significant difference between non-fiction and fiction writing. 

One is where the story is true to life while the other is, well, you guessed it, not true at all. 

Non-fiction is usually fact-checked — to ensure there are no embellishments or statements that could come out as untrue later on in the author’s writing career. 

Whereas, fiction writing can have as many fantasies as possible — fictitious dates, cities, landmarks — and that won’t get the author in any hot water.

Why Does it Matter…? 

So why does it matter when writing fiction, we have to make our story seem more real in areas that don’t really matter?

  • Do some think that it’s not realistic that a man would drink wine rather than cognac? 
  • Who says men don’t roll their eyes when they are annoyed? 
  • Or that men don’t embrace each other unless somehow they are lovers.

The above questions are what I gave to another who was reading my first novel. I didn’t quite understand her criticism of why a man wouldn’t roll their eyes when something said made them annoyed.

Their response was, “Men don’t do this at all.” 

This baffled me because I would see my husband roll his eyes at me whenever I would say something silly or do something out of the ordinary. Along with this eye roll, he would shake his head.

Then this person tried to tell me I needed to get to know men more, to know their traits, body language, and habits. 

Wow, I’ve worked with nothing but men in the past, and I’ve been married to my husband for 17 years. I’ve based my lead male characters after him and other male characters from those I’d worked with. 

Getting to know the opposite sex and seeing what each one has/had done in my presence, I would say gave me enough experience.

What made this person an expert on how men behaved or what they did? Their response was growing up with a lot of brothers and male cousins. 

The fact they grew up around these individuals only suggests they knew these individuals personally—they didn’t know every man on the face of the earth, nor wasn’t a man themselves. 

The story I was writing was indeed fiction. 

If I wanted to make my guy drink wine instead of cognac, I had every right to do so. 

No one should tell a person who is writing fantasy that their dragon can’t talk or become friends with the protagonist. 

It’s fantasy, why wouldn’t they? 

Then what does it matter if a man rolls his eyes? If that’s what the author wants in their story, they can. 

It’s. Their. Story. 

I get this person who was giving me all of this advice wrote their own story their own way. It didn’t give them the right to tell me how to write my story. 

My story, like theirs, or any gifted author came directly from my heart. I let my creativity come into play and created three great novels from it. 

Take A Stand For Yourself 

Undoubtedly, this person’s words of advice nearly caused me to give up on my dream, but I took a stand and cut ties with them and continued on writing. Their words—whether they meant them to—were hurtful and full of much discouragement rather than help.

As a self-indie author, you write a story of which you are proud of. 

Then, when you send for others to review your work, you will receive feedback that will make your manuscript better. 

Receiving good advice will make you this much stronger as a writer—the bad advice will only weaken you to the point you give up. 

Don’t let this happen. Trust me — the audience is there and will see you for the words only you can write.


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Janelle RileyJanelle lives in Louisiana with her husband, their three children, and Hamilton their half lab half Rottweiler. Along with writing, she’s a professional photographer and enjoys being outdoors photographing people and nature. When not writing or photographing, she enjoys traveling, drawing, listening to music, and cooking. 

Janelle’s on Twitter @janelletriley1 and Instagram @tejay_riley5

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  • Hugh Tipping says:

    “Undoubtedly, this person’s words of advice nearly caused me to give up on my dream”
    I know people who have given up or nearly so because of the opinions of others.

    Take advice where it helps you enhance your wants and brings you toward your goals. For the rest, listen, see what you can learn, and move on.

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