Sunday, May 6, 2012
The Craft of Writing
Finally something about the actual craft of writing. I have neglected this part of my blog. I haven’t really felt like saying something about what I have learned in the writing craft for a couple of reasons. One thing is that I haven’t learned that much new stuff lately, it’s more like I keep going back over the techniques I know. Or should know. Second is that I’m not always sure how to articulate what I learned. There’s a third reason too--I just need to get around to it.
On Hatrack we have had a couple of discussion dealing with how subjective editors are. In other words each editor has his-her own ideas of what constitutes a certain technique. That would include passive vs active, Tell vs Show, how much setting to put in a story. Since it is subjective there is no need to work on each technique just concentrate on writing.
While I think this side has a point--no two editors are the same and what they like is subjective--I believe that as a whole they know what readers like. Some are very good at picking stories that will appeal to a lot of readers and go on to win awards. I have challenged one or two paradigms: readers will be disappointed if a MC doesn’t change someway or another but at the same time there are techniques that attract readers. So we still need to work on the techniques that readers like even though what editors like and what they are looking for is subjective.
Going along with that is something I was told a few years ago that I think I am finally really grasping. You need to do your style of writing, if you try to force something it won’t work. But at the same time you need to learn certain ways of doing things. So the idea is to work on it, practice-read about it-see how others do it-until it becomes a part of you. Then it slips naturally into your style. At first it might be forcing it into a story but as you work on eventually it becomes a part of you or your style.
One last comment, I have noticed--can’t say if someone pointed this out or if I just noticed it or both--pros use fewer than-s and and-s and that-s. Obviously you need some of those words but three or four and-s in a sentence is usually too many. Even two can be too many. It cuts the flow and makes the sentence too long. Both of which can interfere with the reader. So I am working on cutting those down. It just sounds or reads more professional. It could be that little added something to lift your writing up...I hope so in my case anyway.
Ironic thing about that though. I just finished revising a story for WotF. On hatrack we have a group that looks over each other’s stories-a new group for each quarter-one of the people pointed out that I had too many that-s, oops I should have seen some of those but at least it is something I’m working on. Going along with what I said up above maybe one day it will happen naturally.