Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A Writer’s Guide to Writing Well

Writing is not about putting pen to paper or fingers to keys; writing is about conveying a mood, thought, emotion, or message.

Since publishing houses have control of the writing process, writers have become complacent about their craft. These days are replete with buying services from editors, publishers, and even other writers. As seen by so many professionals in the field, writing has become an industry that feeds upon itself.

More precisely, writing has become an industry that feeds upon the labor and creativity of the individual writer. Editors, publishers, and others have a hand out to give a writer a helping hand. Writers are now the commodity and the customer, yet have no voice in the process of either.  

What are writers to do when faced with an industry of corporate rules and regulations? Is there any room for innovation? Or is creativity doomed in the formulaic sanitarium called publishing?  

Education and experience dispel a pay to play scheme any day of the week. There are a number of ways writers can become decisive participants in their chosen craft. Writers must shrug off the pressures of the corporate institutions and seek out their own voices.

When writers become self-reliant, opportunities arise while opportunists disappear. To avoid the pitfalls of vanity editors and publishers, writers must mature from a combination of factors. Education and experience are the best directions to cultivate these hidden and natural talents.

First education must be sought. Noncredit as well as credit courses are invaluable to a budding writer. When writers learn from others who have been or are currently in the industry, realizations of reality can erase the romanticism of making it big overnight. Writing takes work.

I remember taking a noncredit script writing course. This course was taught by a professional Hollywood script writer. She had written for popular and beloved sitcoms. What I learned from her experience created a love of dialogue that I use in my stories.

Credit courses in reading, academic writing, and creative writing are also worthwhile for writers. A good education is learning from the writers of different eras and understanding what makes their writing literature. Classes help writers learn how to quote and cite from sources. In addition, a writer can learn from the masters not only in their creative fiction but their critiques of fellow contemporaries. Creative writing is more than making a fictional world; it is also about seeing fiction through a discerning lense.

A final exam of Edgar Allan Poe became a reading, critique, and academic paper of him. Did you know he was a critical thinker and critic of other writers of his time? To understand a creative work means understanding the person behind the stories. I learned how Poe envisioned his craft and he in turn helped me envision the craft of writing. 

As I took more courses, my understanding of poetry had been increased from a small town limitation. After I read some poems from Marlowe, Shakespeare, and other masters, an indelible comprehension fostered the love of rhyme, prose, and the economy of words, which have molded my skills. My poetry writing improved as I have been published and received awards for my efforts.

Writing is more than words on a page. Books are great to learn the fundamentals of any subject, but learning through experience is a requirement beyond measure. Professional writer’s groups help writers to learn how to tell a story through the eyes of others. Others are who will be reading and reviewing the work that is produced so groups of amateur and professional writers to critique are important to a writer’s development.

As has been discussed, a writer needs educational opportunities to cultivate their craft:

-a critique group
-professional writing/poetry group
-credit courses
-noncredit courses
-exposure to professionals in the field

Writing is also about observing the world. When a writer sits in a coffee shop to watch how people interact, communicate, and use body language that act helps create vivid and three-dimensional vision of writing.  

Reading and writing go hand in hand, so a writer may want to read a book then see the movie version. In contrast, a writer will need to see a movie then read the novel. This mirroring effect helps create an articulation by understanding the alternate takes on storytelling. This comparison and contrast exhibits how prose and dialogue can be used as a help and hinder.  

Other opportunities to experience writing in the professions is by going to the theater. The theater provides a writer with mood, setting, dialogue, reaction, and audience participation. All reference points a writer needs to advance their craft and stories.

If a writer wants a well rounded educational experience then movies and stage plays are but the beginning of their journey. Introduce musical theater, opera, dance, orchestra, and variety shows in the mix of exposures as a writer needs those visual cues.

The world is a stage. The writer’s stage is their world. So the theater is the place to open up the world to the writer.

Experience lies in the beholder, so a writer should avail themselves to a multitude of complements:

-theater plays
-dance (ballet, jazz, flamenco)
-musical performances (symphony, orchestra)
-variety shows

When a writer has absorbed different styles, information, and refinements, the writer becomes the conduit and not merely the object for stories, characters, setting, mood, and dialogue. A writer who has been exposed to opportunities will know their strengths and weaknesses. Then a writer has the ability to outline their goals and needed support mechanisms. A writer becomes an active participant in their career. That leaves a writer open to options without becoming the victim of them.

Writing has turned into a business for monetary gain with many avenues to pay for services that may or may not be advantageous to the writer. Writers with a sense of self will avoid the pitfalls of vanity editors and publishers. With education and experience, writers can evolve into a discerning creator who will only pay for services that elevate their skills.

Let a journey into the five senses begin a career in writing.

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