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Scott Lax Blog

What's it all About, Alfie? Writing's Most Important Question.

Remember the movie, "Alfie"? The first version was in the 1960s, starring Michael Caine, the second more recently, starring Jude Law. The was first a great film, the second a pretty good film.

Then there was the theme song, "Alfie." The song is a question: "What's it all about, Alfie?", and the singer poses a bunch of questions to the protagonist, making the song both original and poignant and a little bit sad.

Maybe youtube the song and give it a listen. That's my way of helping you remember the single most important question to ask yourself about anything you're writing. Any genre. Any form:

"What's it all about, [insert your name here]?"

I wrote this post because I read an essay today that zeroed itself out because it didn't know what it was about. The writer is skillful, but was all over the place, which diluted it and made it self-indulgent. As essay, a story, a poem, anything, has to be about something. Read More