Tuesday, August 18, 2020

3T Writing Tidbit

Writing--art or craft?

Writers argue about this almost as much as pantser versus plotter.

In order to answer the question, you first must answer for yourself what is art (versus craft). I think one of the best explanations I've read recently belongs to Rex Stout, out of the mouth of his genius detective Nero Wolfe. Here's my interpretation of that:

Most detectives work by following leads and asking questions that lead to answers. You can trace backwards--that answer was from that question, and that question was because of that lead.

(Craft, in writing, is following the rules.)

Wolfe arrives at his answers by genius or art. There is no way to trace back from the answer to anything. The answer arrives in his skull fullblown.

(Art, in writing, is when you follow all the rules and the story still doesn't work. It takes a spark of something that can't be reproduced.)

Think about trying to unmake a cake. You can't separate out the eggs, butter, and sugar, you can't work backwards, you can only separate it into crumbs. So though we crafters follow a recipe now to make a cake, nobody before the first cake knew putting eggs, butter, sugar, and flour together and baking it would result in a cake. That was art. (Yes, art is sometimes lots and lots of trial and error until you finally hit something new that works, lol.)

So writing, according to this viewpoint, is mostly craft--and good craft is vital. But the books that breathe, that have an unexpected spark of genius--those are art.

 Published since 2009, over the years I've accumulated various items of writing wisdom. The Third Tuesday Writing Tidbit showcases these items in no particular order. Click here to see all 3T Tidbits.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

2T Repeat Performance

In December 2016, the lovely Magical Musings crew decided it was time to close down their blogging shop. I had three wonderful years with them. This is the last of those posts. (Addendum: I found a guest post I'd done before joining the team. See that next month.)

What day is today?--originally posted November 9, 2016.

Back in my IT days, I worked with a marketing database of a famous car company who shall remain nameless, but whose cars regularly passed the 100K mile mark even back in the bad old 80s (when cars were just starting to come out of the rustbucket gas-guzzling phase).

Now you may not know this, but car model years actually start in fall of the year before. So 2017 models will have released already, and 2018 is on the drawing board. For marketing, since we had to get ahead of the selling curve, this often mean I was dealing with the next year in June.

Sometimes I dated my checks that way.  You remember checks, the paper things we used instead of cash before debit cards, lol.

It was always a relief when January finally came. On the plus side, I never made a mistake dating checks with the old year.

Writing is a lot like that. I sit here on a rainy September day, the window open to 68 F temps, writing a post that will go live in November when it will almost certainly be 30s or low 40s. Working on a book that won't be due until December, and will probably release in 2017 but maybe as late as 2018. A book that's set in October. Still marketing a book that released in August of 2016.Thinking about plots for an April Fools short story.

I am in such trouble if I ever get in an accident. When the EMT asks, "What day is today?" I won't know.

ADDENDUM: This is the last of the old Magical Musings posts, and the issue is even more true than ever. I'm putting these together in February of 2017, gearing up to launch a box set next week that contains a book I wrote in 2013, waiting for edits on a book I wrote in 2016 that I think is coming out late 2017, working on a set of stories for release in 2017 that I originally wrote 20 years ago. Fun!!