“It’s not about the words – it’s about the juice.”

A good story has juice, like an orange. The juice is the spirit of the story, and the writer’s job is to squeeze as much of it out as he or she can.

It’s not about the words – it’s about the juice.

The words of the story, like the body carrying the spirit, are only there to carry the juice. And the juice can exist independently of the words and was there before the words and can exist long after the words are gone. You know the stories that linger.

This juice is a quality. You have to discover it in the story.

You don’t make the juice. It’s already there. You just have to discover it and then squeeze it out.

And I’m sure it sounds funny to say, but I think that the juice is what carries the writer all the way through the process of writing the story. And it also happens to be what carries the reader through!

Nobody gives a shit as much about the fancy words or if a comma is missing. (Critics do, but not readers.) What readers care about and what you should care about as the writer is the juice.

Every good story has it. Think of some of your favorite books or movies, or your own best stories. They had the juice.

It’s the ESSENCE. You need to discover it.

Maybe it’s fine if there’s no essence to the story. Maybe it’s still interesting as a read. I’m sure I have stories without much juice (some have more juice than others), but people still find them interesting.

But those stories without as much juice do not always live long after the words are gone.

It’s kind of like how when someone dies. The body is buried, but we believe or know that the spirit (or the person themselves) goes on. Can’t die. Because it’s not a physical thing. It’s something bigger than this world and day-to-day life.

  • See if your story has juice. The essence. If it does, find out what it is, squeeze as much out as you can and use it to carry you through to completion of the writing.

And … maybe you are juice, too. Your own self, your basic essence, you. Squeeze that out and get rid of anything that isn’t the juice! I’m sure that would help with your writing and your life.

This is why Holly Jessamie called herself Orange Girl, in the novel “Nowhere Man and Orange Girl” (a novel I wrote under a pen name J.W. Walker). As kids they’re asked by their friend to make up names for each other, and she chooses “Orange Girl”. Because of something her momma once said.

Hope you find many stories that have juice and that my notes here help you in your own writing.

– Wayne Haroutunian

And follow me on Twitter @wh_author, or my Facebook Author Page or here on Medium, for helpful tips and fiction stories.