Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Craft of Writing

I've been writing on and off since I was in my early twenties, trying to make sense of the craft of writing. Yet, I still get excited when my mind makes one of those leaps of understanding.

I think of the craft of writing a great puzzle that fascinates me and I'm constantly trying to unravel it. With every book I read and every movie I see, I’m studying narrative drive and characterisation, looking for flaws in logic and world building and cheering, when I see something that makes me sit up and go, WOW.

That means I love finding interesting articles on the writing craft.
Here's an article on Scene Structure, by Jacqueline Litchenberg. And here's an article on story structure, by Joe Narrise.

When did you last have a light bulb moment about the craft of writing?


Dave Freer said...

I'm pretty sure that's Nassise :-) Last big one for me was mixing first/third to show different POV's :-). It's tricky but can be effective. But I make small discoveries all the time. This is a craft you never stop in.

Sarah A. Hoyt said...

My problem is that usually my "ahahs" come at a subconscious level and I feel like I'm going crazy because I'm doing stuff I don't understand. Then suddenly, like a roscharch stain it rearranges and makes a coherent whole and the last time was... a month ago, I think.

John Lambshead said...

I think I am still waiting for mine :)

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Nassise - Argh. Apologies to the man himself.

Thanks, Dave. I had a monster of a day yesterday.

You're right. You never stop growing as a writer. Unlike a footballer, you can peak and stay there, learning into your nineties!

Rowena Cory Daniells said...


The subconscious does make those leaps. I read in New Scientist that they can see the 'light bulb' moment if they scan the brain. So it is an actual phenomenon.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

John, you're being too modest!

Kate said...

For me the aha! usually happens after I've got it down - it's when my conscious mind figures out the whys and wherefores of the things my subconscious has been doing. Forex, I've been focusing for a while now on making sure the right details are present in a scene, so that the information that I need to present layers in seamlessly. Then I realized in the shinyhappynew epic fantasy with vampires I'm layering that information in damn near effortlessly. Click!

Of course, that means that there's another leap waiting, because writing is one of those crafts where the moment you stop working to improve, you start going backwards.

I suspect this happens to everyone in pretty much every field. Whether we recognize it is a different beastie.

Amanda Green said...

I just had one of those moments. I'd been working on a project and put it aside more than a year ago because it just wasn't working. Then, a single sentence popped into my head at the wonderful time of something like 4 in the morning the other day. It took most of the day for it to gel and sink in and I realized then that it was the new first sentence for the discarded work. That one sentence changed the "tone" of the piece and now it's rolling along without any major problems.

That's how it usually works for me. I put the piece away for a bit and something will hit me in the middle of the night or on a log drive and things start falling into place then.

Chris McMahon said...

In terms of writing craft it seems more of an incremental thing with me. I done so much editing on novels over the last few years I think my focus on that sort of thing has leapt up a level.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...


It's so interesting how the unconscious mind works in the creative process!

Rowena Cory Daniells said...


I think we all need to do some gardening, or driving to distract our minds, so the little story gremlins in our subconscious can get on with their jobs!

Rowena Cory Daniells said...


I really enjoy the editing side of writing. I see the first draft as springing from the intuitive side of the brain and the second draft, polishing work as coming from the logical side of the brain.

There was a spinning dancer on the Courier Mail web site. If you were right brain dominant it spun one way, if you were left brain, it spun the other way.

If I had been writing first draft, it spun one way. If I had been polishing and editing, it spun the other way!

Kate said...


I remember that illusion! I've never tried it after doing different activities, though - that sounds like a fascinating experiment.