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Writers are born not made - a sort of debate.

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Writing Resource' started by Kit', Apr 24, 2004.

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  1. Kit'

    Kit' Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Oct 30, 1999
    This is meant to be a debate - so flaming of another person will be looked harshly upon. I started it because I it has been something that's been bothering me and I wanted to see if others agree - or I'm just crazy.

    *


    This idea of writers being born and not 'made' (for want of a better term) has been an idea I've stumbled over many, many times in the Fanfic board. For a long time it has niggled at me that there is something in this sentiment that isn't right. Then one day someone (can't remember who) posted that on top of a writer being born and not made a writer *must* write, that they can't live without writing and to not write would be the equivilent of death and I thought "Hang on, that's wrong."

    I've written many, many stories on these boards but in the last year or so my contributions have slowed almost to the point where I never write. I've almost never felt a compulsion to write and its only happened when soemthing has given me a fantastic plot bunny. I've never felt a compulsion to write every day. Does this make me any less of a writer then anyone else on these boards? Also, was anyone here born with a pen in one hand? Anyone can write - the abundance of fanfiction and published literature should tell us that. A writer gets better with experiance, so they are made (even if it is by their own hand) rather then born with some inate knowledge of how to interpret characters and write good dialogue.

    A writer is simpley someone who writes. Who puts pen to paper to tell a story, or pass information onto other people. A writer does not need to feel a compulsion to write. A writer can be anyone who puts pen to paper.

     
  2. Kathryn

    Kathryn Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    May 1, 2002
    Interesting question, Kit, and a tough one. I've alway looked upon it as both. My favourite author Elizabeth George (her books are mysteries, sort of based on the traditional British police procedural) articulates it better than I could in her recently published book outlining her experience and her process in creating her novels and by teaching (English and Creative Writing) Roughly, she says (sorry if therer is a bit of reiteration of what you said):


    On the one hand, there's a craft to it, with tools that a good writer learns to use well, the elements of character, story, setting, dialogue, and all that, and then there's the mechanics of language (icky, but necessary). These are the things that are taught, that are less instinctive, but without which there would be no frame for us to work with.

    And then there is the part of it that is inspiration, that place from which someone writes, "because I can do no other" , like a call to set out an idea on paper and share it with others, as you mentioned. I don't think anyone is quite sure where that comes from. But I'm pretty sure that it is integral, because the writing life is demanding, and you have to have that passion or you won't have the will to keep at it. And putting your pen to paper has to come from the gut and requires an emotional investment, otherwise there won't be that mysterious artistic thing happening (which applies to non-fiction too, I don't doubt)

    And I don't mean that to differentiate between someone who has fun occasionally in fanfic, or someone who disciplines herself to sit in front of the computer for 8 hours everyday-even when the words aren't flowing-to earn a living. Because, hey you've written something, you did have the will and the creative force to do it. And you've posted it for us to read. You've been through the process, with its challenges and rewards, so sure, there's no reason to say that because you don't intend it as your career or profession that you're not a writer, Kit.



     
  3. Kit'

    Kit' Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Oct 30, 1999
    It's not so much that (as I consider myself a writer) but the idea that if you do not suffer this compulsion every day then you aren't a writer. It's just a strange notion.

    Thanks for that Kathyrn, what you said is very true. I'm just trying to challenge this notion that if one does not write every day or every second day or even once a week then one is not a writer.

    Kithera
     
  4. NarundiJedi

    NarundiJedi Jedi Master star 6

    Registered:
    Oct 8, 2001
    I'd like to think of it as both.

    I know for a fact that I've committed Mary Sue when I was eleven and even wrote a story with horrible spelling errors when I was seven. The fact that I put pen to paper to tell a story (and for fun), like Kit said, made me more of a writer than most of my classmates who, as far as I know, weren't spending their spare time writing fiction.

    Through the years I've learned a lot about characterization, spelling, passive vs active voice, how to make narrative and dialogue flow, etc. When I made mistakes I had mentors (such as teachers and later betas) who would let me know where I'd gone wrong. I always listened to what they had to say, and since I did (and applied the knowledge they gave me) I improved as a writer.

    The main manner in which I believe writers are born is in the motivation. I was born with a sense of duty to myself and my creative impulses. I never like to leave things unfinished or abandon anything if I think it's a worthwhile effort. This applies to my writing and my music, but I like to finish up my projects. Therefore I have more drive, I feel, than the casual fanfic writer, to finish my hybrid series. I probably wouldn't have as much motivation for Star Wars fanfic if I wasn't writing OC/canon, probably because the plot bunnies would start to wane after so many NJO stories.

    So yeah, I do have a huge innate drive inside of me that makes me write. I do have periods of time where I enjoy doing other things, but there's nothing quite like spending cold winter nights indoors with a story, unless I'm watching movies. ;)

    Jae Angel
     
  5. Sara_Kenobi

    Sara_Kenobi Jedi Grand Master star 7

    Registered:
    Sep 21, 2000
    I don't write every day; it's not that I lack the time for it, but it's a case of me being inspired to write something or not.

    I've always been this way with writing. I must feel inspired by something or nothing comes to the notepad.

    I don't feel that you're born with the ability to write. I've always believed that everyone of us has that creative ability of expressing themselves with words, but some can tune into their abilities more quickly than others can because they've been practicing their skills for years.


     
  6. solojones

    solojones Winner, JCC Word Whiz star 10 VIP - Game Winner

    Registered:
    Sep 27, 2000
    Sorry, I still don't buy that you can teach someone to write or that anyone can be a good writer, even creative people. I know you can teach mechanics and you can teach basics. You can teach how to interpret other people's writing pretty well though there's obviously different levels of skill involved.

    There is, however, a difference between a talent and a skill. A skill is something that you might have a natural knack for but which can really be developed in most anyone with a lot of practice. Learning to use a computer is a skill. To an extent, writing is a skill in that you have to practice to get good at it, but I would say it's based much more on talent.

    I can try all I want, but I'm never going to be an amazing gymnast. Why not? Because I just don't have that talent. I've been gifted with other talents, but definitely not that one. It's the same reason some of my friends who are creative and wonderful in other areas such as music are never going to be great writers. They just don't have the knack for it. If everyone could do anything, it would take away our admiration for those who have a particular talent.

    I don't think there's any harm in anyone who wants to writing for fun, but I do think there are notable differences between those authors who just like it for fun and those who are wired to do it. I'm not saying it's just 'you have to write or you will die'. Certainly different people feel that creative impulse to a different degree. But I for one know that when I don't write, I can't concentrate properly on things like my math homework. I just can't do it because my mind is constantly writing and I have to get it on paper. I've spoken with many other writers, from teenagers to published authors in their 50s, and all of the really dedicated ones have shared this sympathy with me.

    [hl=darkgreen]-sj loves kevin spacey[/hl]
     
  7. Dev_Binks

    Dev_Binks Jedi Knight star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 7, 2003
    A writer is a bit of both. Writers are generally hardworking (generally) so they can finish a story, which is a trait people are born with. You need to learn how to write well, you can have a story in your mind, but that isn't ready to be read, you have to put it into sentences that make since, which in a since is being made.
     
  8. Kit'

    Kit' Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Oct 30, 1999
    Solojones, I'd say people write for different reasons.

    I used to write as an escape method for school and home (when in highschool). If I hadn't written I would have lost my mind, so then I did write everyday. Now I hardly write at all. I'm mostly too busy (uni, work, home etc) and I have other outlets (gaming, boyfriend). Writing suddenly becomes less important to me. I very much doubt that it makes me less of a writer.

    My grandmother is a published author (with multiple books to her name) and having talked to her about it I doubt she feels a compulsion to write in the same sense others do. Her only compulsion is more of a trying to get her information out (that she's learnt over a lifetime) before she dies.

    Kithera
     
  9. solojones

    solojones Winner, JCC Word Whiz star 10 VIP - Game Winner

    Registered:
    Sep 27, 2000
    That's what I was talking about with it being to different degrees. But for some people, the feeling of needing to write is really intense. Take Michael Crichton, for example. He's a very smart man and very interested in the sciences. He went really far in med school, but was always writing at the same time. Finally, he just decided he needed to be a writer full-time. In instances like that, the other kinds of distractions you speak of must go so someone can be a writer as a career. For others, writing as a hobby is enough.

    I still don't think this negates the fact that some people are simply born with a writing talent. And those people tend to be the ones who feel the impulse to write a lot, which helps to develope the talent they have.

    You'll see this mentality reflected in programs such as film schools, which are highly selective about who they admit (yes, like all humans, they do make mistakes sometimes though). USC is probably the best film school in the country, and one of the things they require of all applicants is to write about the most important moment in their lives. This is one of the most important parts of the student's application. You can be a really hard worker, really involved, and have great grades. You can even show evidence of great creativity. But unless you show an innate ability to convey your ideas and get emotions across properly, you're not going to get into these talent-based programs. They know that there's no amount of schooling that can help someone who's just not a writer/director/etc. become that.

    [hl=darkgreen]-sj loves kevin spacey[/hl]
     
  10. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Jedi Grand Master star 9

    Registered:
    Mar 26, 2001
    I think it's both. You are born with an inclination to write, a need to unleash the power within yourself, but it is molded by what your life is. I don't think that writers are are an elitist group, that any boundary sets us apart, because, really, all humankind are writers in their own respect. But I was definitely molded/made. I had one teacher who is now the head of the Harvard English Department who taught me how to reach beyond my safety zone. I had my teacher who changed my entire style by getting me to focus. And writing SW has changed me by drawing me to write emotion, to draw on myself. So, you are never free of being "made."
     
  11. JDH3

    JDH3 Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 27, 2003
    This is an interesting question to me. I have always considered myself more of a storyteller than a writer. I don't type fast at all, and the nuts and bolts of the writing process drive me to madness. However, my talent lies in the written word, and I'm compelled to share my stories, therefore I write.

    I don't have the discipline for film, and the traveling bard has gone out of style lol. I do feel the need to tell my stories and writing is my way of doing that. I don't write everyday because of the reasons mentioned previously, but I do generally think of something related to my stories at least once a day. There are certainly days when I just don't want to face the task of writing out my tales, so I don't. I don't believe that makes me, or anyone else, any less of a writer. I was born to tell stories, but I was made a writer because that's how I express myself best.

    My two cents on the subject before us.
     
  12. Jemmiah

    Jemmiah Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    Mar 5, 2000
    This IS an interesting topic, Kit! I find myself in agreement with you for the most part. I don't for a moment think that anyone who doesn't continually write or feel a compulsion to write is any less of a writer than someone who does.

    I know that speaking for myself, I definitely fall into the latter category. I've tried and tried to wean myself away from writing continually but I can't do it. The best I can manage now is not to start work on multiple stories at one time! So yes, it's a compulsion. A compulsion that's been there since the age of four, where I would get my elder sister to write down the stories that I dictated to her. But to say that a writer is born and not made...well, I don't know about that. Creative writing, like people, is strengthened by experience. Skills are honed with the passage of years. Writing is for everybody with something to say, be they compulsive writers or otherwise.

    I guess I'm with you on this one, Kit. :)
     
  13. R2D1000

    R2D1000 Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Jun 15, 2003
    Writers are not born. they are made. You learnt the alphabet and grammar didn't you? you weren't born with that knowledge. Similarly, you aren't born a good writer. You get better by writing and reading.
     
  14. Mjsullivan

    Mjsullivan Jedi Youngling star 3

    Registered:
    Dec 8, 2003
    I think you'll find that neither can exist without some of the other - that is, no writer can be simply be born to write. They must be 'made' to some degree, if only to learn the rules of grammar, narrative, etc etc. Similarly, not everybody can be 'made' into a good writer. If they have a profound lack of natural ability, then 'making' the writer would be an uphill battle indeed.

    There are just so many aspects of this 'sort of debate' (as you put it, Kit ;)), the topic can be interpreted in many many ways.

    The Role of All-Natural Skill

    Firstly, you have to raise the issue of "if there is no natural talent, then for what reason would that individual be interested in writing?" I think there has to be some natural flair for a writer to even begin to take an interest in writing.

    I think you'll find that there are no exceptions here - even the most inexperienced of writers must still have the skills to convert their thoughts to words.

    Creativity vs. Good Writing

    These are two completely different things, as we all know. That means that natural-born ability will have a different effect on both of them.

    Creativity

    This is something that i thoroughly believe people are either born with or not. Creativity is simply a process of the mind - it determines how you think of various things, situations, people, etc.

    People cannot be 'made' to be more creative (except through a liberal application of alcohol, I'm lead to believe). So, in my opinion, it can be said that the creative aspects of being a writer are definitely something you are born with.

    Good Writing

    Creativity is nothing, however, without good writing skills. I'm using 'Good Writing Skills' as an umbrella term to cover all the practical aspects of writing - things like grammer, spelling, punctuation, alliteration, literary devices etc.

    These things, I think we'll all agree, must be taught. And so, the technical aspects of being a writer are definitely 'made' through an education. Over time - whether it be by reading more widely or by writing more and more advanced work - people come to appreciate the technical aspects of writing more and more, and hence can use them more and more effectively.

    So is a Writer Born or Made?

    I think the answer to this question will depend on how important you believe the two aspects mentioned above really are.

    If you believe that the flow and technical quality of the story are what lend it that special something, then a writer is undoubtedly made.

    If you believe that a good plot and some nice creative characters are more important than trivial things like commas and paragraphs, then you would be more inclined to think that a writer is born. But, as usual, Creativity is not as simple as it seems.

    The bottomless pit that is Creativity

    Superficially, Creativity is about generating a good plot and creating some wonderfully interesting characters. But beyond that, there is a whole sub-level of creativity that writers have to deal with, which link directly to good writing skills.

    This sub-level includes things like Character development, Characterisation, Narrative Flow, Perspective and POV, Pacing, Continuity, and Interesting Literary Techniques.

    I believe that these are things that really need to be 'made' over time. How many times have people been turned away from the fanfic archive, after recieveing glowing reviews from their Betas, for things like 'pacing problems', 'characterisation problems' etc etc. I've never submitted one of my stories before, but I can guarrantee that my first effort "floating fortress" wouldn't have made it for more than one of the above reasons.

    But now, having identified the problems in my work, I know how i can fix them. This sort of experience is what 'makes' a writer, i think. The natural-born ability needs to be there, but it has to be complimented by a good dosage of experience and (depending on your own opinions) education.

    When will he get to the point?

    OK, my point is (sorry to be g
     
  15. NarundiJedi

    NarundiJedi Jedi Master star 6

    Registered:
    Oct 8, 2001
    I can try all I want, but I'm never going to be an amazing gymnast. Why not? Because I just don't have that talent. I've been gifted with other talents, but definitely not that one. It's the same reason some of my friends who are creative and wonderful in other areas such as music are never going to be great writers. They just don't have the knack for it. If everyone could do anything, it would take away our admiration for those who have a particular talent.

    The beginning part of this is where I have to disagree with you. The reason why you're not an amazing gymnast is probably why I'm not an amazing gymnast. You probably weren't put into gymnastics class at the age of five and didn't spend three hours doing it three or four or even five days a week. I realize that there will still be some people who are BETTER than you just by their innate talent, but please don't tell me that you couldn't be an amazing gymnast if you practiced at it that long, that hard, and from an age that young. I just don't buy it.

    I'm a pianist. I started lessons at the age of five, and by the age of seven I was doing the whole recital thing. In that time of constant lessons, I also developed perfect pitch from relative pitch. By the time I reached the age of eleven I realized there was something else nagging at me. I had songs inside of me, stories set to music that needed to be told. I started writing songs. They were kind of crappy at first, but I got encouragement and even a recording studio from my piano teacher, and she helped me make my first few songs worth it. Since then I've relied more on my own knowledge of what makes a song. Of course I listen to a great many genres of music, and my music tends to reflect my interests of the time. I think writing is very similar, because whether I write jazz music or medical science fiction, the DRIVE involved is the same drive. It's taking my interests, wondering if I can do something similar, and putting myself to the test until I'm satisfied with the finished product.

    To answer the question I KNOW is going to come up, yes, I did have one other person in my life who wrote music along with me. She got her inspiration to start writing after she met me. Now, let me tell you that she was a better piano player than me but she had the same kind of drive, just in a different direction. While I was writing folk and jazz, she was writing the score to her own musical. Together, with our friend who wrote lyrics, we came up with songs to those lyrics and produced albums. Even sold a few copies, which only made the effort all the sweeter. :)

    So here's what I think in a nutshell: Talent is what makes someone a better gymnast than you or a better pianist or writer than you. There are many on these boards that I'd consider to be the best writers of the bunch, and that's what they get from talent. But talent isn't involved in what makes a person write. The most talented person can feel like not writing from time to time, even if they always turn out gold when they put pen to paper. Still, some, like my friend and me with song writing, get our inspiration from somewhere, feel the calling, and really have to answer that calling. It makes us different from others, yes, but it doesn't really say anything about the gift we've been given. We may be song writers, but it's up to you guys, the listeners, to tell us if what we've written is crap. ;)

    Jae Angel
     
  16. kayladie97

    kayladie97 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jun 6, 2003
    I think I'll go along with most everyone else here and say it's a little of both. I don't write every day...Real Life just won't let me do that. And I actually went several years without writing (and really not thinking about it that much) when I got married. It's interesting that, when I got divorced, the first thing I turned to for comfort was writing!

    When I have a story in my head, it's almost like a little gremlin at my side, poking me saying "Hey, when are you gonna write this down, huh?"

    Now do I think there are different levels of talent? Absolutely! I read some of the stories on here and I wonder why I even bother sometimes! Do I think I could get better if I was willing to put more work into it? Probably, but sadly, I just don't have the time.

    So I admire and envy those people who take that incredible chance and decide to make writing their career...I don't think I could do it. Sometimes I think that's the difference in "writer" and "author".

    I'm not sure if this post really added anything to the debate or not, but it was nice to get it off my chest. :p
     
  17. Vampi_Digitalwytch

    Vampi_Digitalwytch Jedi Youngling star 3

    Registered:
    Apr 11, 2004
    Intriguing question, and one I really couldn't venture forth an answer to since my cirucumstances differ from everyone's pretty much.

    Some of my earliest memories were of my mother writing her poetry, and she encouraged to write whenever and whatever I felt like along with letting me read whatever book I took a fancy to.

    This did have it's memorable moments like when I read and comprehended The Exorcist back in kindergarden. My synopisis was 'A little girl got possessed and the priests get the monster out'. [face_laugh] Short and to the point.

    But with my mom's encouragement, I've always written, and years down the road when I hit some very bad times in my life, the writing helped keep me sane.

    To me, not writing's just not an option.

    My punctuation's not the best, never has been since the ';' I always lapse on using, but when I'm in that, well, for lack of a better word, Zen frame of mind where the words are flying from my head to the fingers on the keyboard, it's a rush. Better than booze or toke.

    I like the feedback I get, whether it's good or bad since either way, my words prompted a reaction from the reader.

    Now, with all that said, I've read a heck of a lot of fics and original stories out there that with some, I don't know if it's just a lack of attention or a trolling effort, but some...*shudders*

    Would I tell these writers to stop or give it up, no. I just can't bring myself to do that since writing means so much to me, to deny anyone that choice is just alien to my mind.
     
  18. Xaara

    Xaara Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Jun 30, 2002
    As almost everyone else has already pointed out, interesting question. :) I can't speak for everyone, of course, but I can relate my experiences.

    I've always been telling stories. Ever since before I can remember, I've created interesting events, fun people, beautiful places. For a long time I don't think I really differentiated between the world in which I lived and the world that existed only in my imagination - they were both equally real to me. Most young children are like that, and draw no clear boundary between fantasy and reality.

    I think the differences between children emerge when someone begins to teach each of them formally. My elementary school teachers were exceptional people: open-minded, witty, well-read, and understanding women. They managed to teach me how to share my stories without telling me what to write or present. In this way, they offered me the tools with which I could pursue the storytelling I love without killing the joy of using the language.

    Others were not so lucky. I have seen teachers who leech all of the fun out of reading and writing, and I can't help but wonder whether they discourage potentially brilliant writers. I see people graduate from high school with only the most tenuous grasp of the English language and realize that their teachers have done them a great disservice. They, like all other people, have stories to tell, but their teachers have made it impossible for them to write these stories for others to enjoy.

    So I suppose I think that all people are born writers and poets and storytellers, even if they don't necessarily possess the tools they require at birth. It's up to teachers, parents, friends, relatives - everyone who can encourage another person to write - to see that all the writers born live to put their words to ink.
     
  19. Miana Kenobi

    Miana Kenobi Admin Emeritus star 8 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Apr 5, 2000
    This is a total ying yang for me. I agree that some writers are born, but also that some are made.

    My reasoning:

    I started writing fan fiction here about 4 and 1/2 years ago, when I was the ripe age of 13. Upon comparing some of my first writings to my current ones, I can see what a horrible writer I was. Like someone previously mentioned, it was through practice that I learned the skill to improve my writing. Granted, I'm no Jane Austen yet, but I write for fun. I know my stuff isn't nearly as good as half the writer's here, but hey, who am I here to impress but myself? ;)

    Now I'm gonna pick on another author here, nameless, since I can... ;) He and I both got onto the JC and into Fan Fiction around the same time. He started a RR story, which I became interested in and contributed to. While I was still writing spelling errors, run ons, and Mary Sues, he was writing these completely beautiful pieces of work. I asked him how he did it, and he just shrugged and said that an idea came to him. He hadn't written fiction before that, yet he was an incredible writer.

    So, in conclusion, there are some authors that are just born with talent, like him, and some who have to work for it and become a writer, like me.
     
  20. Hananiah

    Hananiah Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jan 15, 2003
    I fall into the catergory of having to write for me it is a compulsion and I have to do it everyday yet I believe it's not the quantity of what you right. A true writer writes what's in their hearts or when a massive plot bunny bites them on the butt it doesn't matter. I don't think it really matters whether they are born or made, some people come really late to writing in their life because it was never something they thought about so much but when they did find it they loved doing it. Someone who has been writing for as long as they can remember(like me) or someone who found it later or just writes when it occurs to them it doesn't make one a better writer or more commited then anyone else. This is just my opinion.
     
  21. Herman Snerd

    Herman Snerd Jedi Master star 6

    Registered:
    Oct 31, 1999
    As with anything else, natural talent is key to becoming great at almost anything. Yet, talent itself is nothing without the drive and persistence to see that talent flourish.


    Nobody can just sit down, put pen to paper, and write a great story. It takes time to learn the craft and develop a knack for telling a good story.
     
  22. AlrikFassbauer

    AlrikFassbauer Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 2, 2003
    Well, here's how I see it :

    - Creativity is imho a *very* important point. I have high respect for creative people (other than me :p ) .

    - Talent can be destroyed (bad teachers ?) or enhanced (supporting). But what's more important about Talent is, that with the right tools, a talented person might become an artist.

    - For my own part, I consider my self as *very* creative, but not very productive. I don't write much, and am impressed by those who manage to write lots and lots and lots of books within shortest time. I need strong feelings towards something to make me write a story out of it. ;)

    Inspiration is a similar thing (to me) : Sometimes it appears, sometimes not, but not every idea is so good that it would justify telling a story out of it. ;) And some ideas are just silly. :p

    I've been writing for years now, but at some times my wish - or should I call it "lust" ? :p - to write became buried under other things in my life. Only in the recent years it dug itself out, so to say. :p ;)

    To me, writing - together with language in general - is a kind of passion. At some times i just must write my ideas out, and I would regret it for the rest of my life if I didn't. ;) So to say. ;)

    So, I believe that a good writer should combine all of them : creativity, talent, skill and tools.

    A writer can be selling many books when he or she is given the proper tools - but might still lack what we call in German "das gewisse Etwas" (which I would translate as "the special thing") which you cannot describe but rather feel.
     
  23. JadeSolo

    JadeSolo Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 20, 2002
    What Herman said. Also:

    I'm sure even great writers, or whomever you personally think is a great writer, started out with some really atrocious pieces of writing. If you write, that makes you a writer, but not necessarily a good one. In my opinion, the "born" writers are the ones who makes you believe that what you read on the page is actually happening. It could be the way they get inside a character's head, the way they write dialogue, the way the describe a setting. More importantly, you're not even thinking, "This is fiction." You're thinking, "I know that person. I've been in that place. This has happened to me."

    It depends a lot on the person's writing style, too. Action scenes and setting descriptions can be taught easily and further depend on how much the author wants to say and how much he wants the reader to picture. But I think the best character stories come from people who just have natural talent. You can dissect a character's motivations and emotions until your pencil is worn down to the eraser, but if you can't feel that character, if you can't put yourself in that person's shoes/boots/feet/tentacles and see things the way the character does, then the story has no life. Personally, I think the born writers are the people with this kind of "inside the head" talent.
     
  24. solojones

    solojones Winner, JCC Word Whiz star 10 VIP - Game Winner

    Registered:
    Sep 27, 2000
    Narundi:

    The beginning part of this is where I have to disagree with you. The reason why you're not an amazing gymnast is probably why I'm not an amazing gymnast. You probably weren't put into gymnastics class at the age of five and didn't spend three hours doing it three or four or even five days a week. I realize that there will still be some people who are BETTER than you just by their innate talent, but please don't tell me that you couldn't be an amazing gymnast if you practiced at it that long, that hard, and from an age that young. I just don't buy it.

    Actually, I was in gymnastics at five and probably would have continued if not for this fact: I became too tall. It became apparent to me that gymnastics was just not what I was meant for. My height did, however, have a positive impact on my softball playing as I was soon the tallest one with the longest limbs which was perfect for playing first base. I had no idea how to play first base, my coach just put me there. Turns out I just had the body for it and a knack for it as well. But I didn't have the body for gymnastics and I didn't have a great knack for it.

    This is what I'm saying about writing. I think that writing, like any other talent-based activity, requires an innate special something that can't be taught for someone to be really good at it. Some people who write a whole lot are still horrible writers. One of my friends is like this. She is creative and writes for fun but admits openly that her writing isn't exactly what you might call 'inspired'.

    I'm not saying it's wrong for people who have ideas to write, I'm just saying you either have that inborn sense of how to write well or you don't. Because writing well is about telling a story in a particular mode well. Someone mentioned that you're not born knowing how to spell or use grammar correctly or even with a great sense of plot. But some people from a very young age simply display a talent for it that transcends simply getting the mechanics right.

    Like anything, you have to apply yourself to be good, though, no matter how talented you are. I'm really good at French, but when I don't pay attention or spend little time on homework, I don't do well at it. Someone else who has to work harder at it because they don't instinctively get it as easily may do better than me. That's how it goes. If talented authors don't discipline themselves and practice, they're not going to be any good. And less talented people can discipline themselves to make themselve better. But I think ultimately we reach a point where we're limited by our inborn talents.

    [hl=darkgreen]-sj loves kevin spacey[/hl]
     
  25. NarundiJedi

    NarundiJedi Jedi Master star 6

    Registered:
    Oct 8, 2001
    Like anything, you have to apply yourself to be good, though, no matter how talented you are. I'm really good at French, but when I don't pay attention or spend little time on homework, I don't do well at it. Someone else who has to work harder at it because they don't instinctively get it as easily may do better than me. That's how it goes. If talented authors don't discipline themselves and practice, they're not going to be any good. And less talented people can discipline themselves to make themselve better. But I think ultimately we reach a point where we're limited by our inborn talents.

    I agree with you there, except that it's hard to tell on the outside just how far your "talent" for something can reach. Where does it end? Are you saying that by years of practice people will eventually reach a plateau? I know from looking at my father's work (he's a professional illustrator) that he's much better today than he was when he was my age. Since I began writing long ago, I've only seen my writing improve. Reading works by published authors like Crichton and Preston has helped me learn more by looking at the styles of others. Richard Preston has a wonderful and sensational style in his novel The Hot Zone, and I couldn't put that damn book down for the few hours I spent reading it. I think writers, like illustrators, can play off the styles of others to explore more than their usual playground.

    I am sorry to hear about your increase in height, though. :p I'm pretty sure it changed your center of gravity enough so staying on that beam wasn't as easy as it was for the little people. And no, I'm not even one of the little people. I'm 5 feet tall, which is too tall to be a really great gymnast. ;)

    I do have one final thing to say, though. When I was in middle school I was really bad at math and science. Enough so they held parent-teacher meetings on my ability to figure out fractions. :p At some point I grew tired of being the stereotypical female who was talented in the arts but bad at math and science. I worked really hard, told my mentors about my quest to better myself, and achieved my goals of getting As in math and science. This continued into high school, and especially into college, where I'd take a course that was the epitome of evil and turn it into my own personal project. I got As in most of those classes, and when I couldn't get As I usually got high Bs. Now I'm an engineer for a living. You could say that I had the talent for math and science all along, but I know plenty of people who saw nothing but really hard work coming from me. ;)

    Jae Angel

    ED: Jeez, 10pm grammar. :p
     
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