Some people believe if they can type (or scribble on a pad), they can write. What else is there to it? Others believe if they can mix some paint, buy a canvas and easel, they can paint. Sure, just put the pen to paper or the paint to canvas and you have created something magical.
Unfortunately (or fortunately) these myths are untrue. There is much learning that goes into the craft of writing or the craft of painting. Recently I spoke with a friend who is quite an accomplished artist. She told me she was going to begin an “artist in residence” program very soon. She’d participated in such a program earlier in the year. I said, “You are already so good. What else do you need to learn?” She responded, “Oh, my, there’s always more to learn!”
It’s that attitude I wish to pass on to my fellow aspiring fiction writers. So many new writers do not take the time to learn how to write fiction. They work hard and create a novel (which in and of itself is a major accomplishment). Then, they self publish this work. In the past editors or agents advised them to go back to the drawing board. The professionals in the field guided the newbies along the path to learning the craft of writing. Today, writers must find that path on their own.
So, what do new writers need to learn:
Ways to make dialogue seamless and believable. How to create difference speech nuances that show different regions or ethnic or economic backgrounds.
Whether writing in first person or third person, the writer must understand how to write from a character’s viewpoint and how not to “head hop.”
Who are the people who “people” your book? What are their likes, dislikes, quirks.
Ways to create movement. No one wants to read a book that is static.
Some writers say grammar and punctuation don’t matter. It’s the creative use of language that does. But if the reader doesn’t understand what you’ve written, you have a problem. New writers must learn when to use italic (not to overuse). When to use exclamation points (not to overuse).
Verbs and nouns carry the book. Adjectives and adverbs do not.
These are just a few things that writers must learn. There are many, many more. In my next post, I’ll share some tips on how to find help with learning the craft of writing.
Just like with any other endeavor, there is much more to it. Do your due diligence and take the time to learn.