A/N: I wrote this article in order to see how others view writing, to see whether my viewpoint is distorted. It was written not out of strife, but out of pure curiosity on the subject of writing. I would most appreciate it if you left me a review detailing your opinions—they are most welcome.
As we progress in our storytelling endeavors, we writers seem to have forgotten what it is to be a writer, why we do what we do, and what it takes to be a writer. I recently had quite a debate with a fellow writer, and thus this FictionPress member has merited discussion here amongst the community of those who know the craft of writing. I believe we all need to stop our faking and think about who we are as writers. Being a considerate person, I will refer to said FP member as Edgar.
First we must ask ourselves, "What are the areas we must practice?" Having read numerous books on the subject, I can conclude four: read, write, study grammar, and study vocabulary. Now, some would argue against the last two, but speaking as a somewhat-learned writer, I can reasonably say that language has words (the elements, the very basics of writing) and grammar (the principles, an understandable way of forming these words.) Those two make some cringe at the very thought—when in reality, do you honestly think you'll make it as a writer if you don't enhance both of these? Edgar seems to think you shouldn't bother with those. In fact, he rather dislikes dictionaries and thesauri, and could care less about grammar. And then, of course, there's reading and writing. Reading is a must—how else will you learn the craft? It's best to learn from there, rather than from some "Write a Book in Fourteen Days" instruction manual. And, obviously, writing is a must—if you don't do that, you aren't a writer.
There are only too many writers today, and most of them have no idea what they are doing. But some are successful enough to get published, and have already learned the basics. Christopher Paolini, author of the Inheritance trilogy, says, "However, if the prospect of weaving your own story doesn't make your blood burn with excitement, find an easier profession. Writing is only for the obsessed." Now, I rather dislike that author, but I have to agree with him there; writing is not a casual activity. Sure, people often do it as one, but to be a true writer, you must take the craft seriously. Edgar disagrees; he would rather go out and party all the time, instead of spending a bit of his time improving his style. He prefers to get drunk, smoke weed, and involve himself in promiscuous sex, yet he leaves his terrible word choice, incoherent grammar, and choppy, monotonous sentences unchanged. As he said, writers don't seem to have fun at all. I don't know about you, but I like to have fun; I just know how to balance going out and writing. (I find both fun, as do I like reading and grammar/vocab.) Edgar also argues that every writer has problems with grammar and vocabulary, and he's right; they do. But he also says, "I'm not even close to getting published yet so I don't need to worry about grammar yet." I don't think any published writer didn't try to improve their writing.
I'm not exactly sure how other writers feel after they write the last words of their stories, but I am never truly finished with mine. After I've written it, I go back and edit, and edit, and edit. I change parts, delete parts, rewrite parts, add parts in. And yet, even after all that, I am still not satisfied; the quality of my stories never really quenches my thirst for perfection. Edgar seems to think that you shouldn't bother with editing, that that job is for the editor. I beg to differ. Not only should writing be edited, but each story should also be a writing experience for you, and as you write another tale of heroism or horror or tragedy, you're improving yourself in the smallest, or largest, of ways.
Publishing, of course, is optional; writing can be for pure enjoyment, which is often the case with me. But "publish" is related to the word "public" and if you are going to "make public" your writing, it can be in book form, or at sites such as FictionPress. With that being said, if you are going to publicize your work, you must go about it seriously. Meaning, editing and proofreading are imperative. Even then, though, editing is good, even if you don't plan on publication—it improves the piece, and every work of writing should be edited, although you will have to abandon it eventually.
Many writers have pointed out that you must read good books. Equally important is reading bad books. What do we learn from good books? We can see what we should strive for when we write our own stories (not in a plagiaristic way, but more in a stylistic one). And from bad books? What not to do when writing. Hence, it is important to read books of varying qualities. Does that mean we should read boring books? No. I wouldn't read a book like Moby Dick, because, in my opinion, it is a rather bad book, but it's written in a style far from my own. Whatever is bad there was once good; reading that in order to stay away from it would be futile. As for other books such as Eragon, I would read those because it is in more recent style, albeit quite clichéd. (You can probably tell I didn't immensely enjoy Eragon.) As we read book after book, we can change our styles as we see fit.
Let us go back to the grammar point. Later on, Edgar said that nobody worries about grammar, that every reviewer on FP doesn't really care about it. If that's true, then I must be some figment of your imagination, because I, for one, believe it's important. In one of his stories he had said, "she had took." I pointed this out to him, and he argued that I am too anal about grammar, and that he hasn't gotten to that in school, saying he "hasn't learned took/taken yet." He is a native English speaker.
I also pointed out to him various times that he was formatting dialogue wrong, in various stories of his. Now, I was nice enough to go on the Internet and find links to sites explaining the correct formatting of dialogue, and I gave them to him. He, instead, ignored them and continued to do it incorrectly. Consequently, when I saw another of his stories with badly punctuated dialogue, I refused to read the rest. (It was the same one with "she had took.") This rather angered me, and he argued that nobody on FP cares about dialogue, nor how it's punctuated. Again, I disagree.
I've also noticed that his style has remained static throughout his stories; as I said before, I believe that every piece is supposed to be a writing experience—each story should surpass the last in quality, even if it be in a miniscule way. He thinks that the abysmal quality of his writing is his style. I think he needs to stop making excuses and start doing the activities that writers do.
All of what I have said is not my original saying. I don't think I'm confident nor experienced enough to set a rule as self-assuredly as writers like Stephen King or Orson Scott Card do. But I do have enough intelligence to read about their ideas and then apply them. Yet even after all that, and although I am dedicated to writing, Edgar says that I'm a poser, and that by having good grammar and vocabulary, I am trying to deceive people into thinking that I'm a good writer. I don't know whether any of this article really holds true substance, but I'll let you decide whether I am some kind of imposter pretending to be a writer.
Thank you for your time.
A/N: Again, I wrote this because I would like to see whether I am wrong in contradicting him on writing (even though I used examples from renowned authors). Please, leave a review.