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How Can I Become A Great Writer?

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Sun Apr 02, 2006 7:23 am
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Griffinkeeper says...

What does it mean to be a great writer?

Is it when you receive kudos from everyone about your story?

Not really. Anyone can say a story is great. Some of the people that say that are unable to construct a sentence.

No, just because people call you great doesn't make you great.

So, how do you know?

I've put together a list, it's rather short, but it covers the entire thing in essence.

  1. The author must be a master in the language of his work.
  2. The author must be a master of organization.
  3. The author must be a master storyteller.

Well, this is all good, but what does it mean?

1. The author must be a master in the language of his work.

A master in language isn't just anyone who can use a spell checker or a grammar checker. They must be able to communicate the emotions, desires, and thoughts of the characters with absolute clarity.

To become a master of language, you must write constantly. Smaur suggests writing 500 word stories every day, just for practice, a practice I endorse. Writing alone isn't enough though. To really advance, one must submit their work for scrutiny by reliable reviewers and put their suggestions into practice. If you do not put a critique into practice, then you have done yourself a disservice. Many great reviewers have stopped reviewing simply because no one listens to them.

Constant writing (especially with a word processor that shows grammatical and spelling errors) will eventually show you what mistakes you are making on a regular basis. This allows you to not only spell better (since you see the spelling errors and learn how to spell them correctly) but it also helps with grammar.

In addition to all this, you must be expanding your vocabulary. I recommend taking a word out of the dictionary and finding some way to incorporate it into a conversation you have that day. The larger your repertoire of words, the more likely you will be able to explain yourself clearly.

2. The author must be a master of organization.

An author must have his story organized and superbly so. Without organization, a book will fall like a building with no foundation. He must be able to clearly organize the story so that the characters actions match the motives. The author also organizes the story to best tell a story.

To be a master of organization, you must be adept in the art of outlines. You must have a clear idea of where plots are, where they were, and where they are going! Without this, a story will never be completed.

The masterful author researches the story thoroughly in preparation for writing it. Some writers have gone out and done some of the things. My sister once challenged me to a staff fight, just to see how it worked. Research is key in preparation; it alone can determine whether or not your story is believable.

Now, we come to the most difficult of the three.

3. The author must be a master storyteller.

There is many things involved in being a master of storytelling. It is, for lack of a better description, the process of being able to merge the first two rules flawlessly.

You must be able to do more than to write correctly and plan accurately, you must see the story for what it is. When I look at stories, I don't look at words. I look at the plot. After doing this for long enough, you will see where the story does not flow.

For example, when a writer uses an obvious plot device, it looks like a mat that isn't covering the dust that was swept under it. When a writer changes the point of view suddenly, the story has a great tear in it. When a story becomes preposterous, then it simply unravels.

A true storyteller is able to see the flow of a story, identify a problem, and fix it. They focus on the important details and ignore the irrelevant data. You will see no wasted words or descriptions in a masters work.

Obtaining this skill is not like the first two. For the first one, you can memorize grammar books and dictionaries. For the second one, you can sit down and spend extraordinary amounts of time on it.

For storytelling though, you need experience not simply in writing, but in critiquing. The masterful storyteller is able to detect not just the flaws in other stories, but in his own.

These standards are very high, but if you are able to achieve them, then you will be publishable. There are probably some things that I've missed here, things I may not understand fully yet. Just remember that it is possible to reach these goals.

All you need to do is critique, write, and learn.

Do you think you can handle it?
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Sat Jan 10, 2009 1:15 pm
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CastlesInTheSky says...

This is awesomeness, Griff.
Had I the heavens embroider'd cloths,
I would spread the cloths under your feet.
But I being poor, have only my dreams,
So tread softly, for you tread on my life.

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Sat Jan 10, 2009 5:18 pm
Twit says...

And completely shattering to my self-esteem.
"TV makes sense. It has logic, structure, rules, and likeable leading men. In life, we have this."


That, sir, is the most frightening battlefield in the world: the blank page.
— Larry McMurtry, Comanche Moon