By Rudy Wilson
The thing is, most writing is standard, informative journalism or worse, terrible fiction that is tragically unoriginal and that’s why no one wants to buy it! I encourage all people to write but most “writers” seem to be conformists and incapable of real honesty. They have no idea what “original” means, in terms of language and story. I receive many manuscripts from people that want me to help them, edit their work, (free of course), and 96% of it is trash. Why? Because it’s not real, it’s fake, it’s some made-up thing that people think is what they are supposed to write.
Let’s admit it: most writers and people are not creative or original but basically ignorant of art or anything new or …..well… sadly…anything but the straight way of life, and their writing reflects it. They try so hard to be original and real and all that but most come off sounding, at best, like imitators of other writers. And, no this is not about me, or my work. I am prone to the society’s influence as are you, but I disdain it in terms of its standards. Watch the lower channels on TV, the networks, for 10 minutes and if you aren’t sickened and afraid to live here, then drop your pen and get a bad job.
But you are different. You are willing to open the vein and bleed on the page; to go deep and bring up the true feelings that you find within, no matter what they look like. But you need writing help to express these truths in your work. There is a term we learned in childhood: SHOW & TELL. The balance between the two is so important. There is no fixed percentage of showing and telling required but at least shoot for 50/50. Imagine a story or a novel which was all narration, or telling. It would take an incredible magician to pull that off, but basically it’s information or journalism, fine if that’s your preference. But the key to fiction, even good creative non-fiction, is SHOWING! Action, dialogue, characters doing what they do, pushing the story and the conflicts forward, as we watch these people or situations grow, mutate, change.
The joy of having characters, be they human or hobbits or animals, is that these individuals become alive and we begin to TRUST them as we watch their growth and see them struggle and fall, get back up, survive, succeed or fail. There are so many different types of characters: the protagonist or hero, (the star), the antagonist (the mirror of the hero,) who stirs things up, causes problems, tries to bring down the protagonist, and it can be a person or situation or any number of angles. Then there’s the foil, a supportive, character who is expendable and generally helps the protagonist, and yet falls or sacrifices themselves for the betterment of the hero. They are usually obvious: the kid who we all know will get killed in the battle, the kind but weak friend to the hero who will ultimately sacrifice for his friend. We must show these characters in action! We see them talking, walking, crying, dying, LIVING!
We must give them plenty of breathing room, meaning, once we get to know them, they begin to take on their own personalities if we can let them, and we MUST let them. We must let them live, and then we follow and record and love them and show them! And we tell things in the right balance, narration when needed. It all depends on how you want to present your work and also how brave you are in trusting yourself to allow, ALLOW the story that already exists in your sub-conscious, and allow your characters to LIVE, BREATHE …etc. Good luck! Create something and watch it come alive…Nothing better! More on all this later! Read on.