Friday, July 12, 2013

Writing - Art, Craft, or both?

I had an interesting (and brief) discussion with another author after we both wrote a review of someone's work.  Both of us agreed that the novel we had read had serious flaws, although he was more optimistic on those flaws than I was (to an extent). 

This discussion hinged on the idea that some authors, considering writing to be an "art," do not think that there is a "right" or "wrong" way to do something - after all, if I'm painting, then I can paint whatever I damn well feel like and if people don't like it, that's their problem.  Similarly, an author can consider their work to be "theirs" and then, if people don't appreciate it, so be it.  When it looks the way I want it to look, then it's ready.

The other viewpoint, though, is that writing is more of a "craft."  In a craft, you are producing a product for the consumption of others, and if that product is not useful to them, you have failed in your goal.  Stephen King considers writing a craft, as stated in his book On Writing.  In this view, if an author's work is not appreciated, not accepted, not LIKED by at least a good portion of his/her target audience (whatever that target may be), then the work is NOT READY and needs to be refined.

I admit freely that I am a "pantser," which, if you aren't aware, is an author who doesn't plot, doesn 't plan, and just follows the characters around and writes down what is going on.  Still, when I go back over the work, I take into account the views of my beta readers and consider whether or not this phrase would work for other people, or that description is enough to evoke the image in another's mind.  This is not easy, not easy at all, but I have to remember that the story already exists in MY head - other people might not (won't, definitely won't) see it the exact same way.

What do you think?  Is writing an art, or a craft?

I'd love to hear from you!

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