Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Real Challenge

Writing is easy. I'm doing right now, sitting at my computer, hands on keyboard, putting words on the screen. See? THAT is easy. Anyone who disagrees is, obviously, wrong.

Writing WELL, expressing complex thought and emotion, THAT is hard. When people say "writing is a challenge," they're trying to put more value on what any successful first grader can do. And, yes, there is GREAT value in understanding language and reproducing it in the written form. But putting words down is not complex task (when compared to the challenge of computing a drone landing on Pluto, for example).

The real challenge, as I said, is expressing complex thought and emotion in a manner that gets the reader to connect with it. MAJOR difference, right? (Hint: the correct answer is, "right.")

To an extent, I'm being intentionally provocative. But think about it: what's the difference between a properly spelled/grammatically correct Facebook post containing a poor argument and a novel that makes you happy, angry, and sad (to the point of tears!)?

It's the ability to express yourself! THAT is the challenge. Are you getting this?

The reason we cry at the end of Harry Potter has less to do with Rowling's ability to write and more to do with her ability to EXPRESS EMOTION. To create subtle descriptions of her characters that make us, the reader, BELIEVE that they're real people.

That's the challenge I'm facing as I move forward with my writing, and I think I'm starting to wrap my head around a handful of concepts that will help me overcome that challenge. It's going to take a lot of work, though. I can string a handful of words together on the page and tell a story. There will be a beginning, middle, and an end. Maybe even a touch of excitement. But if I stop there, I'll be another ham-fisted writer meat-pounding my way through a story that no one wants to read.

So when someone who's never tried writing a book says, "Oh, anyone can write," nod in agreement, because it's true. Then add, for their benefit, "But can they CREATE real people?" If that confuses them, explain. And show them the difference between someone who puts words on paper in no particular order and the heart-wrenching power of a novel that sent you into a downward spiral for more than a week because it destroyed everything you ever hoped for.

Yep, Giles is a person. He writes for Beyond the Trope. Any questions?

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