Thursday, April 20, 2017

Art, Writing, and Criticism part 2

      (Hey everyone. My apologizes. This morning an unedited post was published. it had a ton of grammar and spelling errors along with being unfinished. I'm sorry you saw that, especially because this is a post about writing. My embarrassment knows no bounds. This was all Chucks fault and he will be punished!...)

    Hello everyone and welcome to part two of Art, Writing, and Criticism. Last week I explained the basics of drawing and how it is a skill anyone can master (click HERE if you want to check it out). Today we will be looking at writing.

    Oh I get it. This is just another one of those ‘how to write’ post isn’t it?

    It isn’t, and if I’m totally honest with you I cringe any time I see those posts about “how to” write, edit, plotting or anything else writing related.

    Have you ever noticed that every “How To write, plot, or edit” post, book, or course is different? Every post about writing or editing is different. The reason behind that is because writing is like drawing. There are some unchanging facts of writing, just like with  drawing. Everyone starts out with the basics. But after the basics are covered, it is all just style and personal preference. Just like there are a ton-and-a-half of drawing styles, there are a ton-and-a-half of writing styles. No one would call these two pieces of art the same style.


     Nor would anyone say a biography and a work of fiction are written in the same style. Now I'm not saying those posts are bad, if you found your style of writing, editing, or plotting that’s great! In fact I would love to hear about it in the comments. But when those posts present their way as the only way... I cringe.

So... you’re not going to talk about writing then?

   Kinda. I’m going to tell you something every writer needs to know. Something everyone who writes anything needs to know. Something everyone who puts pen to paper needs to keep at the forefront of their mind. And I will also recommend two phenomenal books on writing.  So what is the essential thing a writer must know? According to Professor Robert Dickson, its “Whenever you write, you are in a fight.

      (Just a little more information about my AMAZING prof. He's a great writer, and a great teacher! He has an amazing talent of helping students develop into better writers, and he always meets them at their level while helping them excel without overstressing them. You can trust what this man says.)

But what does the quote mean?

      Prof said “You are in a fight because your reader is looking for any excuse to put down you book. To stop reading. Your job is to fight for their attention and keep them reading. The moment it no longer interests them, you have lost your reader.” There are so many things in the world calling for our attention, so what makes your book worth reading?

      Yes, I know that sounds mean, but it’s true. We all have that book that isn’t holding our attention. For me that book is Samara’s Peril (Jaye if your reading this I’m not saying it’s bad, it just isn’t holding my attention) for you it may be something else.  That is why you need a good plot, good characters, good story, good writing, and criticism (more on that one in my next post). You must have all four to produce a good novel. 

      Assuming your reader will stick around and read your work is the worst thing you can do. You must assume your reader is looking for any reason to quit reading, then write so they can’t put it down. This is fighting for your reader. We've all read those tasteless parts of books, those "boring parts" the novel is better without. Those kind of parts are what ruin any good story. But how do you know if your losing your readers attention? Well that's where Criticism comes in—More about Criticism in a later post

      I know there is a-ton-and-a-half of books out there telling you "how to do" whatever. They promise they will make you a beast writer if you buy this book and listen to them. And some of them do offer good advice. But in the end, it's just that, just advice, not writing principles. Not the foundations upon which you build your own style and your own book. 

      I’m not the kind of guy who buys or even bothers to reads books about writing. I just don’t care enough to read someone else’s opinion on it. But the books I'm about to suggest are ones that can provide you with the proper foundations (and why one is used in college level writing courses). The principles you'll find within these books are great for building a strong book.  

     A friend of mine read a ton of books on how to write, and she strongly suggested I read:

At first I was like “just give me the bullet points.” But Ernesto (Ant-Man anyone?) was like "no you must read the whole thing to get it" and I was like "Naaaaa, just give me the bullet points". So, Ernesto did. And once I got them they didn’t make any sense. They looked something like this

“Plot Construction part 3: state your plot in a single sentence” another one read “Plot Construction part 4 and 5: create single sentence chapter headings… Fill out chapter headings into Paragraph summaries” (Parts taken are adaptations from the book "How to write and sell a Christian novel" by Gilbert Morris. I do not clam them as my own)

Doesn’t make much sense, right? Let me try to explain in art/drawling form:

      When you draw, you start with a stick figure. The stick figure is the backbone upon which the character is built. The stick figure is just simple lines, but it’s the foundations of what you will build upon as you draw. Without the stick figure your drawing will be very odd looking. After the very simple stick figure you add circles and ovals to help indicate where arms, legs, and muscles will be. Still the drawing is incomplete. But now it has more shape, you can step back and take a bird’s eye view to see if something is out of place or if something needs to be changed. Then finally after doing all that you finally add the details and a fantastic drawing has been created. This style of writing/outlining is like that. You boil down your story idea until it is nothing but a one sentence summery, then you build upon that. (I’m not going to explain any further than that, if you want to know more just buy the book it's like 5 bucks on Amazon, including shipping)

    Once I read the book I got the full understand of those bullet points my friend gave me and now use them without ever having to re-read the book. That is the style I use to write and outline, I find it the easiest and most effective way of writing. Because first I make a very basic idea of how the story will go from begging to end. Then I build more upon that already set foundation. And finally, I get to add all the cool details that really make the book (or drawing) look good. Now I'm not saying this style is for everyone, or that it is the only style that is good. It’s just what works for me

  The next book is “On Writing Well” it was assigned reading in the class I took with Professor Dickson. That book totally blew my mind.!!! This book is something EVERY aspiring author must read. I’m not just saying that. If you want to be an author, if you want to write anything people can’t wait to read, then this book is an absolute MUST READ! (you’ll understand why when you read it).

     Some of you may think these books aren't exactly the way you want to take your writing, which is fine. But I strongly suggest you at least check 'em out from the library. The principles you can learn from them are priceless. Like my Asian brothers are fond of thinking "there is a learning opportunity in everything."

Asians aren't the only ones who think that Marrok *rolling eyes*

      Yeah...But they are the only ones to learn Marital Art forms from Animals, HA!

   But in all seriousness, there is something to learn from these books even if you don’t use their style of writing.

I know this isn't your typical post about writing. In fact, it may have offended some of you (especially those of you who have already published). I know some of you think (I've even read on some other people’s blog post) how writing should be done only for you. That as long as it makes you happy it doesn't matter what other people think because if you like it others will like it. But in reality, writing is a fight, a fight for the attention of the reader. If you want to become a better writer (and who doesn't?), I strongly suggest picking up those two titles.

Have you found the best style of writing for you yet? Do these books sounds like something you'll pick up? Do you totally disagree with me? Let me know down below! (But be nice)

Until Next Time, Stay True to the King!

Pictures and gifs used are not my own and nor do I clam them as such. All rights belong to their rightful owners/creator.


  1. Great post, Marrok! :) I don't like it when people use the "how to" either. Every time I see it, I'm like, "You mean this is YOUR way, not the ONLY way." And because I don't like it, I've decided that if I ever do a blog post like that (which I probably will), I'm going to make it clear that what I'm about to tell them is MY process. It's how I do it, and they don't have to.

    I really like that: "Whenever you write, you're in a fight." Whenever I write, I try to make it something that the reader will WANT to read. Sometimes when I read over my rough drafts I think, "Wow, that is so bad, even I don't want to read it." :P

    Nope. You didn't offend me at all. In fact, I agree with you wholeheartedly. (And, I just added those two books to my to-read shelf on Goodreads. I'm definitely going to read them. :) )

    1. Thanks! Yeah that "whenever you write, your in a fight" is great to keep in mind. it will really help with writing.

      That's good. I didn't want to come off to harsh. You can't go wrong with those two books I can tell you that much :D

  2. Good post, Marrok. And definitely a lot of good advice. I'm not much of a writer but I found this post very helpful. Writers should definitely try to write for the reader not just for themselves (if they want to get published at least). Also, I'm sorry I haven't been on your blog in a while! I really like the look it has now! Nice job :)

    1. Thanks! oh no problem, I've been kind of busy myself lately and haven't been able to be on others blogs as often.

  3. Nice post, Marrok! And yes, I agree, everyone has to find what works for them writing-wise. :)
    (And by the way, I tagged you for the Liebster Award on my blog, if you'd be interested.)

    1. Thanks! Yeah I just saw it thanks, sounds like fun!

  4. Yep, every writing post is definitely just the personal opinion of the one writing the post. Every style is different.
    Can't say I personally agree with all of this post, but as you stated: everyone's got their own opinion! :)

    1. That's fine :D If everyone agreed there wouldn't be any way to grow and get better! If you want I would love to hear where to disagree.

    2. True dat. :)
      Well, I totally get the point you're making, and do agree that we shouldn't just publish a book because we like it and want it to stay like that, unedited, etc. but at the same time, I don't think it is our main goal to write for an audience, for their approval. It is of my belief that we should write for God first and foremost, and then ourselves, enjoying the journey. I know everyone's thoughts on this are different, and I'm fine with that - we're all at where we're at by the grace of God.
      For me, I don't think there are rules and 'have-to's' in writing - I think there are guidelines, and suggestions, but no concrete rules besides letting God show and guide each writer personally.
      Yes, we do want to keep our reader's attention, definitely! That's a strong hope and desire in all writers. But I just don't think we should hang our entire writing on that, because not everyone is going to like our writings no matter what we do, but some people are going to love it. That's the thing with opinions - they're wide and scattered across the board, so I don't think we can write for an audience, because it's never steady.
      So, I'm not arguing your point, just giving my opinion on it too. :)

    3. I get where your coming from. And it is a valid point (because that is something I didn't really elaborate on). I'm not saying we have to write for the sole approval of the audience, because everyone likes different things and it's impossible to please everyone. But I do find it helpful to write for an audience. Like right now I'm writhing a superhero book and it's being written for the superhero audience. People of the romantic historical audience won't like it.
      The main idea behind "when you write your in a fight" is too push ourselves to create the very beast novel a person can. To bring a Bible verse into this idea it would be like "whatever you do, work at it with your whole being, for the Lord and not for men..."
      I know I didn't explain it like that but that was the meaning behind it.
      Thank you so much for sharing your opinion, I do really enjoy reading opposite opinions. And I'm not trying to contest your opinion because yours is a good one! I think we should all primarily write for God first, and give it our very beast because it is a way of praising Him.

    4. I get where you're coming from much clearer now, thanks. :) Yep, that makes total sense. My first read of this post, I thought you were saying that it was a universal fact that we have to write/please an audience instead of more of an opinion, and that our main goal was to write for an audience, but on second reading and your comment explaining, I understand much better and can agree with where you’re coming from. I think our thought-patterns were just on opposite railroad tracks for a moment there. ^.^ I also may have thought what I did at first because that’s what I’m used to reading, so I apologize for not grasping the intent behind it at first.
      I agree we’re to do our very best, and that verse is a great tie-in for that.
      So yep, I get it now and agree. :)

    5. Thanks, I should have probably elaborated on that a little more in the post. There is no need for any apologize :) I liked getting to read your thoughts on my not so clear post!


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