Why Are You Writing THIS Story?

We hear this question a lot: Why do you write? (Especially for those of us still on that path TO publication)? I have lots of easy answers to that: Because it’s the best feeling, because I’m not much good with stuff other than words, because I can type really fast, because I have to…

But a different question is: Why do you write this? This character, this era, this problem? Especially when, as it so often is, this is really hard.

Here’s a quick list for my historical YA, by far the hardest writing project I’ve ever taken on and the one that makes me face this question more often than I’ve ever had to before.

  • Because my hero has a strength that I want to get on the page.
  • Because the wrongness that was going on in 1910 is still going on today.
  • Because my hero has to face a choice I think many teens today have to face, and I want them to know that I, at least, support them in it.
  • Because I know that if I back off from this story, there will be a heap of things left behind that I chose not to learn. And where will that take my writing?
  • Because (and here’s where the hope comes in), I believe this story has power.

What brings you back to your WIP, even when you are tired or doubtful or drifting? What is it about this story that makes you need to write it? What is the call you can’t ignore?


  1. This is a great post, Becky. I think that your #2 is my #1. And I love your #4 and your #3, Actually– I think I’ll just print this page out and reread it as a reminder that it’s important to know why we’re writing our particular story.
    At the SCBWI Carolinas conference I was advised to take my story and write it from both characters (white and black) POV. As I plot that out tomorrow, in the back of my mind I’m going to think, “Why am I writing THIS story.” Thanks.


    • beckylevine says:

      Wow, Carol–that’s exciting about the two points of view. Challenging, but I can see why/where it would work. And that means you’ve actually got two characters there to give you reasons for their stories. Good luck on the plotting!


  2. Last night I couldn’t get to sleep (horrible headache) and entertained myself with answering your question. It distracted me from my headache and I came up with other answers! Thanks for posting this.


    • beckylevine says:

      Wow! If not quite a headache cure, the next best thing! Hope your head feels a LOT better today–I hate when they hit at night.


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