Monday, July 16, 2007

Craft

Let me start by saying, This is NOT a rant. I am not aiming this at any one person in particular.

However...I have heard several people mention "Craft", so much so, that I cringe everytime I hear the word. I came across this blurb by an author and felt she said it perfectly.

“please STOP reading the craft books if you haven’t yet written a complete book yet. I cannot stress this enough – if you’re reading a book on craft and you haven’t yet written a book that you can plug your own experiences into, you’re not going to understand that craft book on the level you need to. Just write the book – the whole book – write it in order, out of order, in any genre or POV you need to but get it down. Don’t get so caught up in the things you think you need to do for pre-writing that you don’t get the actual writing done. Save the energy you expend doing index cards and things of that sort for the writing. Trust me, the craft books will make so much more sense after the writing is accomplished.”

12 comments:

Jen said...

Amen! (g) Is this woman reading my thoughts? I'm so sick of hearing the word craft that I want to smack anyone who utters that harmless, five letter word.

IMHO -- join a writer's forum -- listen and learn, but more importanly, WRITE. There's no amount of preparation that will allow you to learn other than going out into the "field of battle." Spend all of your time preparing and you'll never get a book written.

Jen

Carol said...

Hi Jen,

I know. I read this and felt an instant kinship to the woman.

I think it is very dangerous to spend an overt amount of time 'studying' how to write. How do you know what you need to improve on if you haven't written anything or if you allow learning to become a stumbling block or excuse, to never finish?

Hélène B said...

Of course, there is no better way to learn how to write then to actually write, but I don't see the harm in reading a few good books on craft to get you started in the right direction.

Notice I said a few--not the whole reference section. (s)

Sometimes it's difficult to undo the damage already done after 100,000 words of jumping jelly bean POV, weak characters and limping plot. A few strategies to employ from the get go can make the going a whole lot smoother.

But yes, there comes a time when you need to Put The Books Away and get your butt in the chair. That's when the real magic happens.

Couldn't resist. *wink*

Carol said...

Bad, Helene.(wink) I didn't want this to be a rant, but you know I can't pass up an opportunity to clarify.

I agree, flipping through a few books to get started, isn't a bad idea.

What I'm talking about is when people won't make a move without knowing the craft of a particular area. They become obsessed and paralyzed with learning the proper way to write.

This isn't healthy and I believe this is what the author I quoted was pointing out.

I have critted work for many people and can usually spot someone who has studied craft, too much. Their writing is stilted and dry. They couldn't breathe life in their piece with a hurricane, but yet they have all the craft areas covered. (Um, just in case anyone I crit for is reading this, I no longer crit the person in question. So, rest assured, it isn't you.)

I understand your concern about instilling bad habits over time, however, someone who reads your work can point out problems and offer suggestions that will stick with you much better than memorizing 'how to' methods.

A casual glance to make sure you're on target is okay, but not when 'craft' becomes more important than the actual writing. I've seen this happen to some promising people.

Sigh. We still friends?!

Hélène B said...

Heehee, of course we're still friends.

We're actually closer on this issue than it may appear.

That said...



CRAFT

Oops! Slipped out. My bad.

;-)

Jen said...

Helene,

BAD BAD BAD!!! (g)

Jen

Jane Richardson, writer said...

So true...and how can you apply it when you don't have anything to apply it TO? Get advice at an early stage, once you've got something to go with. Then get the basics sorted, and go from there, but not too much...too many people edit all the life out of their writing 'cos a book told them 'how to do it.' Just write, write, write :) And find crit partners you can trust to tell you the truth, but who'll help you improve. J x

Carol said...

Hi Jane,

Exactly! Good crit partners are worth their weight in gold.

Cindy said...

Hi Carol!

Indeed. I've been writing my book for (count 'em) SIX years. Why? Because I keep psyching myself out, second-guessing, and getting in my own way. Oh, and I've had babies and a business to run, but still. Six years really ought to be enough time to write a book no matter who you are or what your life is like. But instead of just writing, I write a little, fret a little, convince myself it's no good, it won't work because. Whatever. Change some diapers, take some calls, think about writing...later.

Too much craft advice can really smother the joy of just writing, just creating.

Carol said...

Hi Cindy,
Thank you for chiming in and giving the opinion of someone who has been there.

Soooo, any recent progress now that you know what to stay away from? (s)

Cindy said...

Carol:

Actually, yes! I don't know how many words, exactly, because I've resorted to a spiral notebook for the times I can't get to my computer. My only rule now is to write every day, even if it's fifteen lousy words.

I did recently do the index card thing, but for me it was really a big help. I needed a visual way to organize the scenes and shifts between POV. Now, when I'm waiting on hold at work I sift through them and jot down notes when I can't be writing. It keeps my mind on the story.

Carol said...

Hi Cindy,

You have hit on the best rule there is--write everyday, no matter how few the words. That's a liberating thought, now isn't it?