In this age of influence, it is easy to think that whatever we create must be completed, without any outside interference. Or obstacle. That our work, our precious babies – for those of us, who consider them such – must be done without anything else being held in its place. Like someone else’s book, values or ideas. But the thing that sets us apart as human beings and makes us unique, is our ability to influence one another. To inspire greatness and, by extension, to be inspired.
Because in truth, everybody needs a light. A beacon. Or a teacher. Since we all may have started off as children who were told magnificent stories. Stories like A Wrinkle in Time, Carrie or I, Robot. And this need to create came to us as part of something bigger, because those stories had such a tremendous impact that we yearned to move someone else. Desired to tell our own stories.
Therefore, I ask you now: Who or what are you reading right now? Because the mark of a great writer (author, poet, screenwriter or playwright) is that they can find the time to read, (hear, listen or watch) the work of someone else. So that they can get a handle on voice, diction and tone, because every writer will have a different way of presenting their material. Showing us something that either we do well or badly. Something that maybe we can learn or even just try to grasp. Because as writers we must be willing to allow ourselves to be open to other writers. The rudiments or methods of the work.
This is how we learn to get better. By being more observant. By seeing how they get their ideas across, breathe life into their characters and set up the plot. Or give the story its substance. I believe to be a good or even great writer is to be open to all the nuances of craft so that when you create your own story, it will seem new and fresh; even if the idea has been expressed before. You will present your slant or take on things, and show how your story is different from what has gone before.
Know that in the end, you will find your story. Create, what you were meant to create. All that matters, though, is that you learn how to be a little more observant. How, to pick up on some of the techniques of master writers. Learn from reading what they have written (as past writers did centuries ago). See what they did and try to take it one step further. Remember it won’t happen in a day, but in a couple of weeks, months or even years the techniques will grow on you, if you apply them. A writer is someone writes. Someone who is observant about life and as such must pay attention to the things that are happening in the world around him, which I’ve read is the best way to learn. At other times though, it is the television shows that teaches you things. You notice gestures, mood changes and the interaction of characters, not to mention orchestration and scene dynamic. Enter late. Leave early. Something that might serve stage drama better than fiction. Either way experiment. In creating scenes make sure that whatever is included is important to the character at that time. Something that they should know as opposed to one of the million things that you know and just have to add, for the sake of clarity.
So, I ask again, who or what are you reading? At the moment, I’m drawn between Patricia McCormick’s Never Fall Down and Jeffery Deaver’s The Skin Collector. How about you? Until next time, keep reading, writing and blogging!