Starting With WHY Applies to Fiction Writing

Starting With WHY Applies to Fiction Writing

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One of my favorite books is Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why.” If you haven’t read the book, this TEDTalk is an abbreviated version, but I highly recommend the book as well.  Here’s the video:

Simon talks about how the way to succeed in business is by focusing on your “WHY.”  Your core message, meaning, and purpose.  As humans, we are drawn to others who are deeply grounded in their purpose.

How does this relate to fiction writing?

Think about some of the classics works of literature. Lord of the Rings, Narnia. There are so many I won’t even begin to name them all.

The common thread amongst all of our favorite books was that they had a WHY.

Lord of the Rings wasn’t just about destroying a ring.  It was about how everyone has the battle of both good and evil inside.

Narnia wasn’t just about defeating the witch.  It was about trusting and having faith that good will overcome evil, and how individuals can come together and become stronger.

Struggling With Details

The "why" of your novel is  important.
The “why” of your novel is important.

As a fiction writer, I tend to trip over minutia.  Re-reading my work I see all the holes in the plot, chapters that don’t flow with the story, characters that seem weak.

For the past six months, I have stepped back from the sci-fi novel I’d been tackling, and upon re-opening the file and thinking about how I could improve, one overall message stood out:

My story has no deeper meaning or purpose behind it.

The reason I was stuck was because there was no core purpose.  My plot was falling apart, the characters were shallow, and the places had no depth.

Stepping back and having that objective view, I can now use Sinek’s “Start with Why” graph, and build my outline starting with the deeper, core message.



If you are stuck, I hope this inspires you to look at your creative work with from a new perspective.

Happy writing! 



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