Masters tales

Can writing be taught?

This is the question. Up until 2011 I had not written a fiction story, now I write-up to three a week. Was I taught this?

All I can say is that if I turn back to my very first story the writing is clunky. It makes sense and it a good story but the writing is ‘young’. I try to create tension with short sentences and simple metaphors. Instead of finding some other way of saying something I seem to have swallowed a thesaurus. But the story is there, and it is a decent story.

I joined the MA in order to learn the craft of writing. Because that is what you can be taught, the physical process of construction and language, but the imagination has to come from you. In Harrison Fords words in Six Days Seven Nights:

It’s an island, babe. If you didn’t bring it here, you won’t find it here.

Writers are like an island, you can’t be taught imagination. You can be told how to find inspiration but to use it and construct a story that you want to read – that is an innate ability.

The craft of writing though, can be taught. My stories are now written with more style. It’s a bit like teaching someone to draw – technically you can make then a draughts-person, but the artistic ability has to come from within.

They say everyone has one book, at least, in them and I agree. But in order to make that book, that story, the best it can be you have to be taught all the complexities of writing. And it does affect your writing. The problem is when to call it quits. When to hold out a hand and say, “That’s it, I have learnt all I need to become a decent writer without effecting my voice. I’m going to stop now.” And it does happen. You become so mixed up with how you are writing that you forget what you are writing.

Learn to write but remain truthful to the style and drive that told you to write in the first place.  You need to have a good story. If a book is compelling and you can’t put it down, you ignore the mistakes in order to find out what happens to the character. And it is that telling ability that writers want; not the perfection of the writing, but the compelling drive of the story.

Another point of view:

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4 thoughts on “Can writing be taught?

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