So the turkeys are out again! Love to see these fellas in the yard. But they’re not the only big ungainly birds out there. I’ve been reading a lot of writing books recently, and some of them have really great advice. True, in each good book there is, usually, at least one stinker.
But most of the good ones build on the two related ideas that “whatever works, works,” so you can adapt their advice to your own needs – HOWEVER, “some things usually work better than others,” so if you are having trouble, here are some tools you can try.
One thing I draw from this is a refutation of the idea that if an artist achieves their artistic vision then there’s nothing wrong with that piece of art. Phooey. It may be great for them that they achieved their vision – heaven knows, I so rarely do that – but what they envision itself may be flawed.
Dwight Swain, who wrote Techniques of the Selling Writer, talks about this in audio courses built on his book. As a novelist, he claims you often don’t know how good an idea is until you get a chapter or three into the story, and that if you find your idea doesn’t work (or that you don’t care about your protagonist), quit.
There’s no shame in this. But if you’ve got the time, talent or treasure, you can sometimes push a bad idea to its logical conclusion without ever questioning the foundation. For example, hiring Samuel Jackson, but directing him to act woodenly as if he’s in an old Republic serial (I’m looking at you, George Lucas).
What you focus on as your artistic vision is itself a matter of choice, and achieving your artistic vision does not mean that you’ll end up with something that is aesthetically effective. Hey, as always, you’re free to do you, but that doesn’t mean that the rest of us are going to get what you’ve got.