Why a Writer’s Craft is Only Half the Story

writer's craftTo write is to orchestrate; to arrange, to organize, to direct, in essence, to conduct.

Exercising your writer’s craft is a two part process and conducting a story well, means allowing the music to be created by your reader’s mind.

In my previous blog, I suggested ways to boost creative thinking. This blog is about inspiring creative thought in the reader.

Under your guidance, characters and scenes unfold according to what a reader can relate to based on their own experiences, and their own imagination.

Great writers craft great stories by leaving something to the reader’s imagination.

For example:

…The dog whined and hauled back on her leash.  She didn’t want to leave the backyard. Maybe it was the openness of the night sky or the towers or the power lines swaying a hundred of feet above. Either way she held ground, tail between her legs, feet planted stubbornly in the dirt. As skinny as she was I was up against a mountain of brute will. She glanced back at the house, then at me so I got round behind and gave her a shove…reader's imagination

How would you picture the dog in this excerpt? If you asked ten different people, you might get ten different answers, size, shape and colour unique to each individual reader’s history with past pets. It’s important to know there is a dog in the scene. It’s important to know what the dog is doing but whether the dog has black fur or brown, a long snout or snubbed, can more powerfully be left for your reader’s mind to fill in.

Seasoned writers craft powerful scenes by allowing actions to speak louder than words.

Just as detail can be overdone, so can the method of evoking emotion. A natural tendency for new writers is to attempt to explain how the characters are feeling. That’s okay if you’re producing an instruction manual but if your aim is fiction, have confidence that the actions and words of your characters, can clearly stir the targeted response!

Take the following passage, for instance:

…When we reached the water, he showed me how to sus out the track and how the deeper spots were off to the sides.

We both looked up at the sky for a few seconds, breathing in the spray of cold blue stars. “Oh ya,  thanks for the book,” I said finally. “You want it back? I can bring it back, maybe come and see you again sometime?”

Bill studied his slickers and spit up some more phlegm. This time it was streaked with dark red blood. Seeing it made me feel cold and alone.

 “Na, you keep the book  kid,” he winced, kicking some dirt over the wet spot on the ground. “It’ll be a long time before I’m back this way.” Smiling he took  the black dog’s head in his hands and stroked gently.

I felt paralyzed at first, then sad and alone with what he was telling me. He was dying and I knew it.

Now read the same passage rewritten below, allowing for better reader participation:

…When we reached the water, he showed me how to sus out the track and how the deeper spots were off to the sides.

We both looked up at the sky for a few seconds, breathing in the spray of cold blue stars. “Oh ya,  thanks for the book,” I said. “You want it back? I can bring it back, maybe come and see you again sometime?”

Bill studied his slickers. He coughed hard then bent over, spitting up some dark, clotted phlegm. I couldn’t guess the true colour but I knew what it would be in better light. My heart double skipped. I pulled my jacket tighter but that didn’t stop the sharp night chill from creeping in.

Kicking some dirt over the wet, he looked at the dog cause maybe if he didn’t, he’d have to look at me. “Naw, you keep it,” he said. “It’ll be a long time before I’m back this way.”

Successful authors know writer’s craft only half the story. The key is to guide and direct, then step back and allow the tale to unfold in the reader’s mind. That’s where the real music happens.

In my final blog in this series, I will discuss why great business writing can be tougher than fiction.

Share a few of the most powerful, most inspiring lines from fiction that you can recall.

What grabbed you?

What captured you?

What caused a paradigm shift in your world view?

By |2019-01-05T12:50:08+00:00March 16th, 2014|Brainstorming, Written Communications|0 Comments

About the Author:

Patty Gallinger-Giao is an accomplished Marketing Consultant in the financial services sector. She is also an award winning wildlife artist and illustrator for children’s books. She is currently pursuing the Certificate in Corporate Communications through Humber College.

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