opinions on craft

There aren't enough.

I find myself more and more disappointed in newer writer(s) at large for the primary reason that more and more of our attention is being diverted away from writing, craft, and story.

We spend an inordinate amount of time trying to fix the world via social media when our primary job is to fix it through story.  We spend far too much time focused on selling rather than writing. When I sit on panels new writers inevitably want to know "How do I get Published?" and what my opinions are on traditional publishing.

Last night I mentioned I did not write EXILE to sell, but to learn.

Someone came up to me afterward and told me how interesting they found that concept: writing a book to learn. (Which left me pleased and a little nonplussed; I learn from every book.)

Last night we had a question: How do you finish your stories?

Excellent question!

This morning someone emailed me with some questions about writing. The actual writing, starting books, etc, not about publishing. 

Damned refreshing! 

Honestly, I think with all the value of having so many options to publish, many newer writers aren't spending nearly enough time on craft. The process of creating stories should consume you, eat you up and spit you back out for a number of years before you start even worrying about selling them. I don't mean you can't submit. Sure. Set up a basic round-robin of magazines in a spreadsheet and submit your short stories to all of them. But that should be 10-20% of your time if you've been writing less than, say, five years. Get it down to a system and it only has to be.

I write an RPG with a friend. I love it because it's as pure as story can get for me. No audience, ever, but us. No pressure. Just fun and learning.

One thing I adore about BookSworn and another Facebook group I'm on is that we spend a ton of time talking about story and craft. There's some market stuff, but we have fascinating conversations that revolve around Story. It strikes me that for most successful writers, crafting great stories is still their primary driver and concern.


Karen Duvall said...

Great points, Bets. There are also new writers who want to run before they can walk, and that's not good either. They shouldn't think about hiring a developmental editor before giving themselves a chance to learn the basics. There are no shortcuts to crafting a good story.

K said...

This is a very thought-provoking entry. Most of the panels I've attended at recent cons have been about publishing and marketing; very few have actually been about writing. I was recently handed a novel manuscript to look over and critique, by a first-timer who stated to me that they wanted to spend no more than a month or two on revision before putting it on Amazon! A somewhat frustrating conversation ensued.

Which is to say, I empathize.

sex scenes at starbucks, said...

I was recently on a panel that was about everything BUT publishing. It was fun and refreshing. The audience was frustrated. Sigh.