Saturday, May 23, 2009

In the Know: Pt. 3

Once we're on our way, it doesn't hurt to study our craft a bit.

Telling a story is an art, and every art has tricks to make it better. I took a painting class once and learned all sorts of cool stuff about how to mix paint to create certain colors, depths and light. And shadows. My teacher taught us the most interesting things about how to create a life-like shadow.

So it is with our writing.

There are tricks, rules, that make it better. Sometimes we know these things instinctively. Sometimes we don't.

It doesn't hurt to study the craft of writing and use all the tools available to forge the most awesome story in the world!

When did you first realize you needed to learn more about writing? What's your favorite technique?

33 comments:

Jody Hedlund said...

I'm constantly learning new things! And I just love it when I learn how to make my story better. I hope I can always find new books and new ways to improve!

jessie said...

You are so right about studying your craft. I started writing thinking I was one of those lucky inherent writers, but have since changed my mind. No, sadly I'm not that good. And I love that you took a painting class. Something I have often wanted to do!

Janna Qualman said...

I guess I've always known it's necessary, but putting in the time and effort isn't always the easiest. My favorite way? Reading. :)

Jessica said...

Me too Jody. Sometimes I get lazy though, and think, do I really need to study this?
But I know that I do, if I want to be the best I can.

Jessica said...

LOL Jessie
Wouldn't it be nice if it all was inherent? Sigh. Even writers who "know" stuff without being told could probably still learn new stuff.
The painting class was really fun! It was in college and I got a couple of amateur paintings out of it. LOL I also learned that painting is not my artistic venue. :-)

Jessica said...

Hahaa! Janna, I just read three books in three days. Definitely my favorite way to go too.
I find reading writing articles/blogs much easier than sitting down with a book.

Jessica said...

A craft book, I mean.

I sit down with fiction all the time. LOL!

Danyelle said...

I think it was sometime after I'd completed my second manuscript. Manuscripts one and two will always hold a special place in my life, mainly because they proved that I could finish a novel. Twice. But they shall never see the light of day again. :D

anita said...

Hey Jessie!

Had you told me you'd taken paint classes? I think you did. I would love to try that some day. :-)

In a lot of ways, I was one of those "inherent" writers and didn't even know it until I started reading writing books. All of a sudden, I realized why I was doing the things I did. BUT, I still have learned and am learning so much! That's why I like writing. It's a constant challenge.

I learn mostly through "how to write" articles and books. But I truly believe that just as much can be learned through reading other fiction in the genre you want to write in, so I'm trying to read more fiction in my genre now.

Great post! I'm enjoying your series!

sherrinda said...

This is a fun series, girl! I knew before I started that I needed help, so I read books at the library about writing. But the more I read, the more scared I got...you know, soooo many rules! So I just started and figured I needed to just do it and deal with it later. Write from the heart, rewrite with your head. :)

Lady Glamis said...

It is so true that we need to know the ins and outs and rules of the craft. Even if that means we know how to bend and break them.

I first knew I needed to know more about writing when I wrote two novels in high school. So I went to college and majored in English and Creative Writing. :)

Irritable Mother said...

I am enjoying this series, Jessica.
Funny, but I HATED writing when I was in school. Always wished I would write something "good enough" for the teacher to read as an example to the class. But I never did.
She always read DeAnna Heindel's papers.
Never mine.
*hmph*
I really believe it was when God got a hold of my heart and I finally had something of value to say that writing became something I wanted to pursue. I'm thinking HE put the desire in me.
And HE has allowed my path to cross with many people who have given me good advice in writing - for which I am thankful!
My favorite technique? Simply being REAL.

Nancy J. Parra said...

I find myself studying craft all the time...I believe you can always improve your craft no matter how many books you write.
That said, my favorite quote is this:
"Craft is the trick you make up to let yourself write..." - Anne Sexton, poet

Warren Baldwin said...

I regularly write and article for a bulletin. Someone told me (or at least implied that) my articles were too long. I concluded they either were too long or that they were not interesting enough to hold his attention!

My favorite writing technique? Mmmm, maybe trying to write something that appeals to people. I write a lot about family (my blog is called Family Fountain), so I try to write things that help in building stronger families. For example, my current post is on marital faithfulness.

My writing is not primarily novel or story form, but I am trying to learn some of the creative techniques of this genre. That's one reason I'm following your blog! Thanks!

Jessica said...

LOL Danyelle! Those are special stories because you finished them. Well said. Maybe someday you'll brush them off... :-)

Jessica said...

Thanks Anita. I did tell you about the painting. :-)
Reading books in your genre is pretty smart. I like to do that. Any sacrifice for research. LOL

Jessica said...

Great comment Sherrinda! And very true. Getting bogged down in rules is not the way to craft an incredible story. YOu smartie, studying before you even wrote. :-)

Jessica said...

Oooh, great major, Lady Glamis! And so true about knowing how to break the rules.

Jessica said...

That's so funny, Karen! Poor you. :-) Being real... I like that. Another blogger talked about being honest in our writing. Sounds powerful to me. People respond to that.

Jessica said...

LOL Nancy! Awesome quote. :-)

Jessica said...

Well, I'm still learning too so I hope I give the right advice here. Thanks for following Warren. I do believe you can use fiction techniques to strengthen non-fiction. I don't know about the length of your articles but it seems your blog posts are always interesting. :-)

Kathryn Magendie said...

Yes! You can know things instintively, but when you learn the "names" for them, it opens up a whole new world.

I think we should never stop learning - it enriches our writing, art, music, whatever! :)

Hmm, what's my favorite - I don't know! I'd have to really think about it!

Jessica said...

Hi Kathryn, you busy lady! :-) Thanks for stopping by.
I hope I never get too prideful to stop learning. Life is such a wonderful, painful adventure. Learning the names for stuff...great way to put it!

Keli Gwyn said...

I was clueless when I first began writing fiction. My degree is in mass communication with the print journalism option, so I could write articles. But the set of rules and guidelines I used writing non-fiction pieces for a newspaper or magazine didn't translate directly into fiction.

I remember getting my first contest feedback from an RWA chapter and wondering what the judge meant by POV and GMC. I started my study of craft at that point and plan to be a student until I pen my last word.

Amy De Trempe said...

After my first critique I realized I didn't know anything. I am still trying to learn all I need to know.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Way back when the dinasaurs roamed -- getting my Journalism major/Creative Writing minor at LSU in the early 80s. :)

Jessica said...

LOL Angie. That's back aways, but now look at you! An editor, a writer; you put your learning to good use. :-)

Jessica said...

LOL Keli. That's true about non-fiction stuff. Do you still write articles?
You were smart to enter a contest. You must've been pretty nervous.

Jessica said...

We're all still learning. Just when we've mastered one concept another pops up. So don't be afraid to write. As some people pointed out, sometimes we intuitively know how to write a good story, despite our lack of knowledge. :-)

Jeanette Levellie said...

Jessie:
What great questions!
I first learned I needed help when I sent the ms. for what I thought was a delightful children's book to five publishers and one of them sent back a brochure entitled, "How to Write a Children's Book."
Ouch!
That was almost ten years ago...

My favorite way to improve my craft is reading great writing that stirs me.

Suggestions from others I trust are a close second. These help me more than reading books. Although I don't rule out books, I learn best from the human element of critiques and comments.

Jessica said...

I think I learn better from crits too. Great writing has been sucking me in for the last few days (or great stories, really) so I completely hear you. I try to analyze why a story is working so well, but sometimes it's really hard. Sometimes a story is so seamless that I'm just swept along. That's a great feeling.

LOL on the publisher. I guess that editor made his/her point. :-)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jess -

The first time I went to a writing workshop, I knew I was in trouble. I'm glad the Lord didn't show me the extent of my ignorance all at once.

I'm learning line upon line, precept upon precept. Taking one step at a time gives me courage to continue the journey.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Jessica said...

OH LOL, Susan, that's funny. :-) I agree with you. When I think of the whole picture, it can be very intimidating. But a little at a time...we can do that. :-)