Thoughts on Writing Part One: Advice
Advice. For inexperienced writers, there is a plethora of advice available on the net, in textbooks, and in other sources. Now, my position on all of this is: absorb all of it but be skeptical. Do not blindly follow advice. Question it. Be aware or become aware of what works for you.
Being a writer involves continual artistic development. Part of that growth comes from reading and studying writing textbooks, studying other writers, and, most importantly, writing. It is important to ferret out new methods and techniques that may improve one’s writing.
But at the same time, some of these works are not very helpful. They could reveal what not to do or simply not be applicable to different situations.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, it is also important to study up on genres that you may not be interested in writing yourself. Arguably the best character creation sheet I’ve come across comes from a video game writing textbook. And they also included the first organizational creation sheet that I know of. So, while I may never write for video games, a textbook for writing video games has helped me better create characters.
The same sentiment can also be applied to the three act structure. By far the best explanation (and example of it) comes from Peter David’s Writing for Comics. Now, writing for comics is something I’m interested in doing, but if someone else isn’t interested in writing comic books, then I would still recommend taking a look at this book because of its work on three act structure.
So far, I have not talked a lot about writing advice on the internet. From my own experience, writing advice on the internet is routinely hit or miss. Most writers who frequently post writing advice tend to come at it as it applies to their own work. Now, some of that may be applicable to some people, but it is not necessarily applicable to everyone. Particularly if things get really technical or laser focused on the issues that the advice giver is working on.
Writing, like all art, is an individualistic endeavor. The techniques can be taught. But how those techniques are used by the single writer is up to that writer. How the writer develops as an artist is up to the writer alone.
My next post in this series will focus on traditional publishing vs. self publishing.