Thursday, October 15, 2009

Writing tips - Crafting rules

On one of the lists I‘m on, a writer who has completed two creative writing courses commented that she felt restricted by being expected to write within the structure of the rules she’d been taught.

I do think she was probably worrying needlessly. I've been published for about twenty years and have just been offered a contract for books 25/26. During my years as a writer I've learned not to ignore those writing “rules”.

I do believe in learning how to craft a story and to keep practising that craft. Believe me, doing a course does not make you a writer. You go on learning after you've completed any number of them, and you learn from your own mistakes and experiences mostly. Writing is like any other career or occupation in that aspect. The more you do it, the better you become at doing it.

Rules (I prefer guidelines} have come about through experienced authors/editors sharing their collective experiences. They're not saying, "You must do it this way.” They're saying, "This is a blueprint of the tried and true structure that has been widely adopted as the best way to construct a novel."

If anyone feels restricted by this notion then I'd suggest that they hadn't really practised the “rules” enough, because when they are constantly used they tend to  sink into your subconscious, and you don't notice yourself using them.

At a basic level the "rules" provide me with a structure on which I’ll hang the flesh and blood of my story. They will then help me to edit the finished product. The structure can be bent or reshaped to fit the style of your writing and the voice which is unique to each story creator.  

The "art" of storytelling flows directly from the creative mind - the insights, emotions and imaginings of the writer concerned - and is something else altogether. It’s called talent.There is no writers’ course that can teach you that. It’s something you’re born with - the ability to observe and turn those observations into words that entertain. Give ten authors the same theme and you will get ten different books. That’s the art. The talent, The X factor!

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