Archive for February, 2009

The Measure of a Writer.

February 14th, 2009 | Category: News

What measures your ability as a writer? Is it peoples reaction to your writing? Is it your own reaction? Is it whether or not people want to read it? It’s hard to tell, an ambiguous and subjective question.

A writer should always be aware that criticism will come, that not everyone will enjoy their specific brand of writing. On the same note, however, can one really ignore the opinions of others? To an extent it is important to approach your work with a devil may care attitude. A writer has something they want to say and must find often time controversial ways of saying it. Still, this can become a hindrance, especially in evolving a style. People will give a writer feedback and the writer must decide whether or not it’s of any value.

First one must examine the part of the writing that is being spoken against. Is it plot devices used? Is it the mechanics? Or is it bland characters? Plot devices each writer should take pride in. If you don’t use a plot device that you specially crafted and enjoy then what was the point of using it in the first place? There are times when the plot device is less important than the characters, and it becomes acceptable to use clichés, but it shouldn’t be done at the expense of style and personality. Mechanics can be as simple as a misplaced adjective, or as complex as poorly structured paragraphs. Word choice requires not only knowing the meaning of a word, but also knowledge of connotation, for it at times is more important than definition. Flow, at times, is also more important than detail. Too much detail can muss up and confuse an otherwise fine story. Bland characters should be a writers worst nightmare. One must always be careful to keep their characters interesting and original. It’s not about whether you like your character or not, it’s about whether you’re interested in your character. If one wants to know everything about the character, wants to see how they’d react in different situations. I’ve said before that I do not know how my character (Sniping101) is going to react, he reacts the way he does, for better or for worse. It’s important not to break character, supportive characters should not become sadists, sadist should not become teachers. There are exceptions, where a character will break with their patterns, but these times should have deep psychological impacts. I could write an entire article on characters, and perhaps sometime I shall.

We writers love ourselves, but at the same time we should never give ourselves any slack. Write because you love it. In the end, though, you want to know peoples reactions, you want others to enjoy it. Most of us writers demand that our peers, the people we respect as equals, recognize our writing for the quality we hope is there; all the while beating ourselves up because the post did not meet our own standards. If you post something you are entirely happy with there are only two reasons: Either you aren’t progressing anymore, or it’s the rare occasion that you put your all into it, rewrote time and time again until you feel it’s perfected. We must hold ourselves to the highest of standards. Don’t think that just because you can’t write aswell as your favorite author that you never will. Hold yourself to the same standard as you hold Hemingway, Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson. You may find that you never reach a state where you could compete, but all the while you are still striving to, still trying to improve your writing.

Want to improve? Keep reading. Read things from authors your respect. To paraphrase an author I can’t remember, but I’m pretty sure is famous, “Writing has three stages, first is fumbling around, trying to find your style, the next is emulation, copying the style of other authors, the next is coming through with your own style.” Basically you flounder at first, then you start reading and seeing what you like in another authors style, you end up copying it, trying to make it work with your style, and in the end that helps your own style come through and develop. There is no such thing as a completely original piece, do not worry about that, but at the same time don’t purposely copy others, take their style, learn from it, and toss away what you do not need.

Let me finish with one last piece of advice. Your style is a reflection of yourself. People can dislike many things and be justified, but do not listen to those who want you to change your style. Sometimes that requires other sacrifices, certain groups won’t take you, or perhaps most people don’t like it. If Jack Kerouac had worried about people disliking his style would he of ever written Desolation Angels? It becomes part of you, to betray it is to betray yourself.

Well, that’s all of my quite drunken mumblings. Keep writing, keep trying.

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