Over at the Publication Coach website, Daphne Gray-Grant has some interesting advice for writers of all stripes. Like most Writing Advice, some of hers resonated and others didn’t. One such article that stuck: How to Find an Angle.
When I translated to fiction writing what she had to say about the difference between an angle and a topic, and why simply writing about a topic at face value will produce dull work, it all sounded so familiar. The vast majority of the stories that remain in my Never-To-See-The-Light-Of-Day trunk are all Idea Stories, stories about a topic with no angle, an idea with nothing to say. Pretty much all of my science-fiction stories had started with a Big Idea—or a What If—but the successful ones like Don’t Read the Books found an angle.
I can go through story after story of mine, and the same will be true for why each one rose above dross or remained just a good idea that went nowhere. Oftentimes, that defining angle will come from a character, and how the topic shapes their life and the world they live in. DRB went from being an idea about the extinction of physical books, to the story of a woman who lived through the change, what she lost, and what she gains.
While Gray-Grant’s process for finding an angle didn’t click as much as the idea of having one, the article helped to elucidate the importance of each story having something to say. I recommend How to Find an Angle. It’s short and sweet, and she gives good examples and clear explanations that just might be for you.