I didn’t originally realize that writing was a craft.
I thought writing meant “telling stories.”
My first completed manuscript attempted to tell a story I made up – the fictional history of Borte Ujin, senior wife of Genghis Khan. The agents who read the manuscript offered nearly identical feedback: great idea, solid pacing, interesting voice – but the characters are flat and uninspired.
I wrote another book, adding dialogue tags and descriptive adverbs galore.
And once again, I was told my characters seemed merely two-dimensional.
It wasn’t until much later – years down the line – that I recognized the problem. Characters require more than dialogue tags. They need a fully-realized world and lives that started before page 1 and continue after “the end.” (Unless they’re dead.)
This realization sparked my interest in writing as a craft – in learning to do more than just put a story on a page. Good writing requires growth and constant effort to improve.
A writer can learn until his or her dying day.
I’m on a never-ending quest to improve my writing and push my prose to a higher state. For me, that means a three-pronged approach: I read, I write, and I analyze written words (my own and those of other authors). It’s difficult, and time-consuming, but in the end the results are more than worth it.
How do you feel about writing as craft? What steps do you take to improve? Do you have a favorite author whose writing inspires you, either as a reader or as an artist?