Various book bloggers have interviewed me over the years. Here’s a question commonly asked, “If you could be any author in the world, who would you be?”
My reply has always been the same. I would be … ME.
The list of authors I admire and whose novels I eagerly devour is vast. And while I greatly admire their dedication and hard work throughout the years, I don’t want to be the next “Fill in famous author name”. The stories I tell are part of me and come from deep inside. The tales are shaped and spawned from the good and bad experiences I’ve lived through, the variety of good/evil people I’ve met, and how I’ve had to cope with every situation. Sometimes, there’s no better way to deal with irregular, irrational people than to create fictional situations loosely based upon life’s experience and hash it out onto the page. Writing is often deeply personal. That’s why no other author could tell my tales in the same way, nor could I theirs.
While we might emulate other authors’ styles and voices from time to time, the crafting of our words would still remain quite different. As writers, we are taught and we learn from the authors before us. We learn to write. But regardless of learning proper grammar and syntax, not one person can actually teach you creative writing. The rules for writing can be taught, learned, and applied, but story crafting and world building develops over time.
If creative writing cannot be taught, how does a writer learn to write creatively?
The best answer: Read lots of novels and short stories. Hundreds of them. Study how the stories are set up. How is the world constructed? Write a LOT. Write every day. Revise, edit, and keep writing. An author’s style and voice emerges over time and through constant practice.
An English professor once told me that you must master the rules of writing in order to break them.
Breaking the rules doesn’t mean to butcher the language or to intentionally misspell words or leave out necessary punctuation. What it does mean is you can deviate from having to form each sentence properly. Use contractions, especially in dialogue. To set pace, sometimes it’s okay to use fragments or a string of fragments. Not always. But … sometimes.
Above all, be yourself. Find your voice while you tell the stories, and the prose will flow smoother for the readers.
Until next time ….