Why Not Write About the Writing Craft?

Yahoo Image Search (Not sure of show)

A lot of author blogs focus on the writing craft and make posts about tenses, grammar, plot creation, genre, and other topics.  Others go into the nuances of Amazon, marketing, and whatever else comes after you hit ‘PUBLISH’.  These are very important things to know about and I’ve learned a lot.  One of these posts years ago is why I can put a Table of Contents in my books.  You really can avoid most of the common pitfalls by looking at what other authors have done.  Just read the post and hope over the spike pit, but please make sure to drop a sandwich down to those who fell.  I mean, you wouldn’t have been able to avoid the mess if they didn’t stumble first.

Now, I’ve been asked a few times why I don’t write much about the writing craft.  I probably have done more than I realize over the years.  Mostly, I write about character and world-building things since those are my favorite topics.  Haven’t gone into much with the marketing and Amazon side.  One reason for the later is because I’ve seen tons of authors tackle the challenge of explaining Amazon and most of them disappeared.  There’s a real obsession with figuring out the tricks and hidden workings, but those things probably change every month.  Besides, hard to write a new book or promote a published one if you’re spending most of your time analyzing Amazon.

There are a few reasons that I don’t really do a lot of craft-based posts:

  1. I still have trouble calling myself an expert, which is why most of my advice has a warning of ‘this is just me’.  There have been many times that another author and I have used a marketing platform or the same writing trick.  Yet, one fails and the other succeeds.  So, I only know what works for me and I’d hate to jump on a soapbox to declare my knowledge then have people fail.  I’ll write about a topic if somebody asks or I’ve figured something out, but I don’t have a lot of confidence here.
  2. I don’t think I write in a common enough style to give advice to other authors.  Present tense third person is what I’m most comfortable with, but it means various tools don’t work for me.  For example, you can’t reveal the past of a city or person in narration without it coming off very awkward.  Conversations are better for information here, which I’ve been told to stop and move to narration because a few past tense authors and readers don’t acknowledge this.  Anyway, I can explain my style and that’s pretty much where I stop because the rest is fairly basic like commas and foreshadowing.
  3. Not even sure what to talk about.  This should probably be #1, but I can never tell what’s writing craft and what isn’t.  Doesn’t say much about me as an author, I guess.  The thing is that all of the writing classes and groups that I got involved in were about reading and reviewing.  I haven’t been involved in the meat and structure of writing since high school.  There were discussions about character development and story structure in college, but I remember the debates more.  Well, the thing I remember most is when an author had to sit there quietly while people ripped apart your work in the name of constructive criticism.  I always thought this was more to teach people how to handle negative reviews than improve, but that’s just me.  The point is that I spent more time fine-tuning my own style than going over the craft basics.
  4. The times I ask for topic ideas, I get requests to write about world-building, specific characters, present tense writing, or fantasy.  So, I believe that most people who follow this blog only want to hear about my genre and writings.  I’ve been doing that for so long that I can’t even remember what I have and haven’t touched on.

Maybe I’ll figure out a few craft posts in the future, but that could be by accident.  So, I’ll open the floor to authors and readers.  What is the one piece of writing craft that you would like to read about?  Perhaps you’ll see a comment asking about something that you know about, so interact.  Let’s just have fun.

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
This entry was posted in Thoughts and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

39 Responses to Why Not Write About the Writing Craft?

  1. Olivia Stocum says:

    Your right about the marketing part. I don’t think there are any secret codes for success there. The times when my books have done well seemed so random that I have no explanation for it, nor do I have an explanation for when they fail.

    Are far as crafting is concerned, well… I tend to stay out of it as much as possible, probably for much the same reasons you listed. Everyone is different, and I can only talk about my experiences, which are unique to what I write.

    I have been considering making some posts, or even some videos, on the non-technical part of writing. The ups and downs, the disappointments and the good days. Now THAT I feel like I’m an expert on. Hahaha.

    Like

    • There might be a secret code. Although, I do wonder if breaking or gaming it is equivalent to cheating. It is strange when you have barely any activity and an abrupt boost happens without warning. I’ve had days where I haven’t touched my computer until the evening and I’ve sold 10 books. Not recently though.

      I have seem many authors do well talking about the craft in a general way. Yet, I do tend to pinpoint a few things that I disagree with or have failed for me. Much of it might be the tone of voice used too. I know many craft bloggers that are soft and calm of tone, so it’s easier to listen to the advice. Those that are aggressive and make it sound like they’re shouting undeniable gospel tends to turn me off.

      People do enjoy those types of posts. It’s oddly nice to how other people deal with the author path’s ups and downs.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Sometimes hearing what worked for you can offer inspiration for things to try. I know what works for one person won’t always work for another, but sometimes what seems like a logical thing to try when it comes to marketing to one person isn’t to another, and sharing what you’ve done can offer some inspiration for new things for the other person.

    Also, some people are just nosy and want to know what others do, and how it compares to their own writing, publishing, or marketing process. Or maybe that one’s just me?

    Like

  3. And the last line was the best advice of all. I’ve stuck my foot in the advice arena over the last year, both on the Storyreading Ape and Story Empire. I’m not comfortable after a certain degree. I know some things well, but after sharing that??? I don’t mind sharing after I learn something (And test drive it). Authors sharing have helped me a bunch, and I like to give back. The well is only so deep though.

    Like

    • It’s amazing how often that last line gets ignored or scoffed at. The giving back idea is great and I try to do the same. Though, one does run out of steam. I was surprised how well the shield and bow posts were received last week. Guess there are little nuggets that all of us have if we can just figure out what they are.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. So far, I haven’t written much about writing. I don’t feel I have anything to add to what’s already been said.

    Like

  5. Actually, I remember a chat we once had about writing in the present tense that was very useful to me: after that, I started writing my short stories in the present.

    Like

  6. Adele Marie says:

    Following on from Nicholas’s comment. The tenses sometimes really screw me up. Is there a simple way of remembering them?

    Like

  7. I am with you 100%. Craft writing is tricky. I don’t do it. I read a lot of stuff that sounds great for other people. Marketing? Still have not cracked that nut.

    Like

  8. twixie13 says:

    I haven’t written about the craft, myself. But to be fair, I don’t feel qualified to do that and would feel like I’m just talking out of my ass. Best I could do in that regard is just to talk about how the craft is for me, since my stuff tends to be a bit different. Still figuring out how to market it so someone will actually read it, and I have a feeling that formatting’s probably not as much of a nightmare for regular prose as opposed to the hybrid of that and graphic novels that I work with. If I did a step-by-step sort of deal, there will probably be at least one “Cry” stage in there. I usually do best with art-related posts and character interviews.

    Like

    • I think that’s the best way to go. We can only talk from our own perspective and that’s what everyone does. Just happens that some people get picked to be the ones who are universally right somehow. Although, I assume it would be different since you do graphics. That’s an extra step most indies don’t deal with.

      Everyone has that ‘cry’ stage.

      Like

  9. L. Marie says:

    I don’t write a lot about craft either. I’d rather hear about character and world building. But you asked what we’d like to see. I picked up a craft book some months ago called THE EMOTIONAL CRAFT OF FICTION by Donald Maass. It’s pretty good. Has writing exercises in it.

    Like

    • I wonder if the prompts you see everywhere act like craft exercises. As far as characters and world building, it gets tough writing about those so often. They’re fairly general, but you still hit a limit of info.

      Liked by 1 person

      • L. Marie says:

        I guess because both (characters and world building) are so broad and so tied to a particular story, genre, or series. It’s hard to think of craft points that fit a wide variety of needs.

        I bought the emotional craft book because writing a scene with a lot of emotion is very hard for me. It helps to have something like that to focus on, no matter what genre or story I’m working on.

        Like

      • One extra challenge is avoiding spoilers too. I can’t really talk about Windemere characters so late in the series. I might be able to go back to basics next year though. Only one Dawn Fang in the next series has appeared in the books.

        Emotions are tough to create. It’s partly on the reader to open themselves up as well.

        Like

  10. rsnoel says:

    I agree with what you said about marketing your work. Certain things may work for one author, but it may not be effective for another writer. It’s quite obvious that each writer has a slightly different journey to reaching their “success story”. It really comes down to the content of your work, and also what genre it falls into. Most of it also comes down to timing and luck (more timing than anything, luck is just a necessity to really have your work blow-up in the mainstream industry). Great article, I’ll definitely be following you. Glad to have stumbled onto your blog!

    Like

    • Nice to meet you too. Genre is definitely a factor. I noticed long ago that fantasy rarely gets the same result as something like romance or even sci-fi. It’s still fairly fringe in terms of book popularity. Timing and luck are the two things I miss I could get a handle on. Maybe the best idea there is to just keep pushing ahead and hope you hit a change in the popularity cycle.

      Liked by 1 person

      • rsnoel says:

        Well said, it seems like it’s really up to what people want in a society at any given time. That and connections, but that’s always the case no matter what industry we’re talking about. Also, romance and sci-fi are definitely big genres, I remember reading on someone’s blog some time ago, that mixing genres is a slight nuance, and that it can hinder your chances of getting published with certain publishers. Either way, I think the industry is hard-press to change, but during these times of uncertainty, I think it’s really important that it does begin to change a little bit. Anyways, that’s just a couple of my thoughts on the matter, we’ll see what the future has in store for the industry!

        Like

      • Those precious connections that I never found the location of. Told they were waiting for me in college and that didn’t pan out. I assume we’re either born with them or there’s a memo that I missed in high school.

        Never heard of that mixing genre thing. Kind of strange since romance tends to show up in every genre as a subplot. Sadly, fantasy is always put under the science fiction umbrella these days. Makes it really tough to categorize for some sights. You don’t know if they want fantasy under sci-fi or general.

        Fully agree about them changing. Been thinking that for years and I thought the rise of indies would do it. Always felt that the indie scene could give authors something that other arts have: an open mic night/audition option. Not only writing a great query letter, but showing that there’s an interest and potential fan-base for a book. It’d be like a talent pool.

        Liked by 1 person

      • rsnoel says:

        So true about the college connection thing. I’ll be transitioning to my junior year of college and I wonder what in the world we’re supposed to do as future employees. But then I remember to just take things one day at a time and really do my best to make genuine connections with other people regardless of job-hunting. I’m a firm believer in life working out in the end regardless of ever-changing situations.

        I agree with the “open mic/audition” analogy; I wish we had something like that too in the industry for writers who want to become authors. It seems so strange that the old way of publishing is still stubborn. Then again, an industry is merely a reflection of those who are a part of the inner-workings of it, so in some way, I can see how difficult it will be for change to occur. It’ll likely be a long time before we start seeing a new shift in the industry; and even then, I believe it’ll only be small (necessary) changes in order for the old publishing way of doing things to survive in the long-term.

        Like

      • Guess it all depends on the major. I was writing arts, so there wasn’t much beyond working on story ideas. My college didn’t have much for fantasy authors.

        There used to be magazines and sites for short stories. You don’t see those very often. Blogging could help, but that’s another thing that traditional publishing would need to accept.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Charles, Great post. It’s a great look behind the curtain. I am one of those that write’s about the craft, but I usually do it by standing on the shoulders of others. I’m a lifelong learner and I read almost as many books about writing as I do books of fiction. It’s fun to look at what those who have ‘made it’ have to say about the craft and share it with others. Do all successful writers agree? Not at all, and that’s what makes the learning fun. It’s like a buffet, put the things you like on your plate, try something new once in a while and if you don’t like it, spit it into your napkin and throw it under the table (metaphorically, of course).

    I’m not expert, either, but I’m much more of an expert than the person who is sitting there staring at a blank page or hiding a manuscript in the drawer. If you don’t get in the water, you can’t learn to swim (or whatever cliche you’d like to substitute). So far, the posts on the craft have generated a lot of discussion and viewpoints from other authors and that was the goal. Am I always right, heck no (unless I’m talking to my kids). I’m glad you shined a light on this topic. Hopefully the tone of my posts is not pompous or “know-it-all”. I’m far from either. My many admirers and loyal father tell me so. (just kidding).

    Like

    • I never really got into reading books about writing. I tried, but I was always arguing with the source material. This probably stems from establishing a personal style before I got into college and focusing more on perfecting it instead of changing. The present tense style didn’t really work with the suggestions. Good idea comparing it to a buffet.

      I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been given suggestions and tips by somebody who hasn’t written anything. You mention tone and I found that the more arrogant and forceful people writing about craft were the ones who haven’t finished a book. Wonder why that is.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Pingback: Why Not Write About the Writing Craft? — Legends of Windemere | By the Mighty Mumford

  13. The longer I blog, the more reluctant I am to say “This is the right way to write.” When I find myself dealing with some aspect of writing that I find interesting or challenging, I beaver up a post about it, but I try to stick to “This is how I do it.” It’s really easy to slip into a lecturing mode, though. Like you, I don’t care for “how to write” books. I prefer to absorb a lot of other people’s writing and mix it up with stuff that excites me, and then actually write something. As for genre, I’m one of those genre-mixer types, and I can certainly say it makes marketing my stuff in the usual ways pretty much impossible. Thanks for an interesting post.

    Like

    • Lecturing mode is certainly as easy trap to fall into. You feel like you have to speak with confidence, which always comes very close to accidental arrogance. Always afraid I come off as too wishy-washy. Mixed genres are a tough one, but I haven’t really tried. Fantasy has usually been my base genre with the rest put in as subplots or works quirks. Amazon categories are still a headache. Far too many of those to keep track of.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, that confident tone often gets me looking for counter arguments to whatever the person is saying. But wishy-washy isn’t good either. I guess blogging is just another form of creative writing, so it’s good practice. I’ve read lots of advice on picking Amazon categories and keywords, but when I go to apply it to my own books, it stops making sense. Maybe it’s the multi-genre thing, or maybe it’s just me.

        Like

      • This is why I try for balance, but I probably come off a little wishy-washy at times. Figure being honest is the best approach. Those keywords are tough. You can write long ones to hit multiple categories, which is a real headache.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s