Writing Notions


What thoughts I place here are my own and may make a few people angry.  Just remember, these are my opinions and there are plenty others out there who have their own ideas.

It has come to my attention that there are two frames of thought when it comes to writing books or even the odd short story.  There could be more but these two stand out the most and I have seen my share of discussions on them in various groups and forums.  Needless to say, this subject does cause some contention.  (If I am understating this, it is on purpose)

Writing beyond what you do in letters to your grandmother to thank her for the cards or to let someone know what is happening after a long absence, is an art form.  We write to communicate in chat clients, in social media, and on bulletin boards to pass along information.  This is everyday writing which everyone does with some decent amount of skill.  But, to write an article for a newspaper or web-zine, a novel or short story, essays or even reports and reviews, this takes something more.  It takes thought to put it down in a way that makes it interesting or even entertaining to the reader.

Writing is a creative process.  Just as with drawing or painting, you need a subject worthy of attention.  It takes skill to put words in an order to make sense about the subject without getting to verbose or not saying enough at all.  There’s more to it than just putting to pen to paper, or should I say fingers to keyboard in this day and age.

Within my favorite writing group, it is agreed that writing is a gift you are born with.  A talent that is nurtured through practice and education to make sense out of our thoughts.  It isn’t something that is learned to write creatively in any industry.  Knowing how to write is a requirement but it takes much, much more.  It takes a creative mind to go beyond the basic.  Having a degree doesn’t qualify anyone to write a best-selling novel though they can certainly try.

In another group I frequent, it is said that to write a good story requires a lot of practice and time to put those fanciful thoughts down into a cohesive story.  Writing is something you learn and keep working at until you have something people like.  The creativity comes from within so anyone can write a story.  Degrees help but just prove you know how to gain the attention of the reader.

So here’s the argument.  Is writing a talent you are born with that needs to be nurtured or something you learn to do?

I am on the side of writing being a talent you are born with and nurture through life.

Anyone can learn to write and do well enough with it.  But to truly push the envelope and gain renown in this craft, it takes much more.  It takes something that can only be seen, not described and taught in some class somewhere.  I must admit, they do come close and help to guide the potential authors into making something wondrous.

The gift makes the difference between writing for magazines and newspapers the world over and finding the odd article found in your local paper once in a while.  Even the worst writers can make something good once in a while and learn from that.

Seeing that difference is a whole other talent.  While that person may not be able to write that classic novel or the Pulitzer Prize winning paper, they know what is good instinctively and let others know about it.  A good author, when they have confidence in their own work, will see the same thing and know to set a story aside for a while and work on something or to push forward and let the story develop on its own.

This is what has happened with one of my own stories.  Way of the Comet (working title and work in progress) I wanted to be my first published novel.  I kept putting it aside for various reasons so it has taken years just to get to chapter ten.  Looking through it now, i understand that at a deep level, I know it needs a lot of work and improvement to make it worthy of being published.  The story had fallen into an over used cliché of a princess returning to her homeland after being found and fighting to regain her family’s homeland and throne to rule forever in harmony.

Sickening, isn’t it?

It has taken years to finally see this, so it will be put in the ‘needs a lot of work BAD’ pile.  One day, it’ll be published, but not until it loses some of the cliché tones and a fuller plot.  For now, ten chapters is all it will have until it is taken apart and refined to be more pleasing for the younger adult and not make older adult sick to their stomachs trying to read it.

What kind of turn to give it?  Possibly a more comedic approach to balance out the action (like Ella Enchanted) or go full action (as in Xena).  Or… better yet, give it more drama with the action supporting those scenes where the young princess tries to make herself known and work hard to get the home she never knew back.

Either way, it will be a fantasy novel with elements of magic mixed with some science where they have to be in the normal world instead of the fanciful realms.

Looking at Way of the Comet, one can wonder if there was any talent behind the composition.  It shows a lot of child-like notions with an adults understanding of how things should be.  It is definitely a first attempt at writing that shows room for improvement.  Other stories which have come after show improvement and step away from the over used themes.

Where will this story take me?  I don’t know, but one day, it will go far.  That is my hope for all my stories.