Saturday, January 31, 2009

Do You Want to Be a Great Writer?

I have sufficient hubris, as an author with no published tomes, to present writing tips here on my blog. My credentials are extensive but rather eclectic and unconventional. Like many that presume to teach I'm often better at theory than the execution thereof, but at heart I feel that I have had the best teachers that literature has to offer.

While it is essential to work at good writing, to learn the craft, to hone your skills, there are times when you just have to ignore all those writing tips out there in self-help books and blogs like my own. My tips are reflective of my taste in literature and what I consider to be good writing. Other people are writing from their own view, whether it is 'accepted wisdom' or personal taste. Sometimes people lose objectivity and can't tell the difference between the two. Some people even forget the soaring flights of breathtaking prose that attracted them to writing in the first place.

If you want to write just like everybody else then follow all the tips. Trim the fat. Grab up your thesaurus. Make sure you get rid of all those weak and floppy adverbs and all those ellipses before someone sees them and marks you as inferior. Tips are useful. Do read and consider them, but when it comes learning how to be a writer there is really only resource that I can recommend with certainty and that is from the writers you adore. Read what you like, read more of it, branch out and read some classics, and then read them all over again; this time analyzing the language and how it is used. Some writers will seem to adhere to all those writing tips you have read, but many more of them (greats) will be breaking rules all over the place.

Of course it takes experience to know when to break the rules so the other best writing tip I can offer you is: write.

7 comments:

Eric S. said...

Excellent advice. I'm writing as much as possible. Playing on a few writing sites, and generally just trying to have fun with it. I'm trying not to focus on where my dream of writing is taking me, just enjoying the ride.

Scarecrow said...

I only write for fun and to clear my head. I have no intention to write a novel, but I have a friend who is a great writer. She also dishes out some great advice from time to time. Her commentary on writing advice was a very dramatic drag on her cigarette while staring straight at me, then to say, "Just write, god damnit. All the other little bits people worry about and write books about, the editors get paid to fix that. Let them do their jobs. Your job is to be creative and write. So just write."

Pan Historia said...

Yes, while I do believe that learning to be a writer because you wish to make a career or art of it is a difficult path involving discipline, I also write for fun and so quite understand the different demands. And agreed - whatever your goal - just write.

Helen Ginger said...

I don't know that there are hard and fast rules of writing, just ideas and suggestions and things that worked for someone and things that didn't.

You're right -- learn how others do it well, then make it your own.

Pan Historia said...

Thanks for stopping by, Helen. I really enjoy your blog and writing tips. Often as I ruminate over your posts it inspires my own thinking. I guess I just like to remind people, that in the end, it is their own art that is at stake.

Norm Cowie said...

Was it Leonard Elmore who said, "I try to leave out all the parts that people skip"?

Norm

http://fangplace.blogspot.com

The Daily Blonde said...

I need to start trimming the fat.