Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Mistakes or Poor Advice - Engineering and the Abstract

Dear Dead Beat,

If writing courses and groups are dangerous and family and friends are unreliable, how can a writer tell when they are getting sound, constructive advice? Not being allowed to repeat mistakes makes good sense, but how is one to know if the mistakes are truly mistakes and not just poor advice?

Uncle Dead Beat can be a little harsh, he knows this. The point is, he's trying to make a point. Of course, not all writing courses are dangeous, but most are (see Writer’s Workshops or How Do We Cope With Gerry?) So find a good workshop with an instructor that knows how to teach critical analysis. Or find a friend that is a good critic. What you are looking for as a writer is a method of knowing what part of the process your writing is within.

Beginning, middle, end? Pre-writing, draft, re-writing? Most writers simply have no idea. Generally they confuse the pre-wriitng stage with the finished product.

A few simple guidelines: When you set out to write, you have no idea what it is you are going to write about. If you think you do, you are wrong and will write something wholly inadquate.

So set out on an adventure to find out what it is you want to write about.

See what transpires and try to make something of it. In other words what is the most interesting thing about this piece of writing? Follow that lead. Rewrite.

Continue with this until a story or poem or whatever has emerged, then ask what is it I have written?

Say it is a story, ask what is the story? Whose story is it?

In other words understand what has emerged and work with this. Create of it what it ought to be.

Does this sound vague? Sure?

You need a method. You need a process.

Writing takes something abstract (emotional) and conveys it to the reader through something concrete (words) producing an abstract response (emotional).

A story or poem or whatever is a vehicle. Just like your old Volkswagon, a vechicle is constructed, and there is a design.

Dead Beat, old engineer that he is likes designs, so learn your engineering.

Ask of me more. Dead Beat has Engineering degrees to hand out by the bucketful.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have listened to writers, editors and teachers. At times they contradict each other and if you listen to some long enough they contradict themselves. I only write about what I want to write about. If it were any other way, where would the passion come from?

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