Can creative writing really be taught? Crime author, Pauline Rowson answers
All writers approach their work differently so there is no right or wrong way of writing. Some authors plan their novels from start to finish others improvise as they go along. I tend to do a mixture of both. I have a rough idea of the plot and a few characters sketched out then I get cracking on the novel and wait for the characters to start talking and moving about, which in turn drives the plot until a shape begins to emerge.
Writing courses are helpful because the lecturers (often authors themselves) can pass on tips and assist with the technicalities of constructing characters and plot, they can provide guidance, as well as inspiration and motivation. They can give advice on writing dialogue and pass on the tricks of the trade, but the only way to 'learn' writing is to write, and to read. Reading helps you to understand what shapes novels.
My career has been spent writing. I have written advertising copy, brochures, web sites, press releases, articles, business books, training material and everything in between!
In doing so I have learned about the nuances of language, how switching the order of two words can change their meaning, the impact of how words look on a page and how they sound when read aloud. I enjoy experimenting with words in my crime novels. And while you can learn technique, no one can create a 'voice' for you, that only comes with practice and experimentation. You also need patience and persistence and the discipline to sit at a desk for hours on end and put words on to a computer screen or on paper. Then you need the critical ability and ruthlessness to edit and polish.
Above all though you need to enjoy the art of writing and creating for your own sake, no one else's. If publication comes that may be a bonus for you but it may not be essential to every writer. It is hard to believe but, yes, some people do write for pleasure.
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