Writing vs. Crafting

A couple days ago, Ann Lynn asked for my opinion on the difference between writing a story and crafting a story. It’s like this: just because I know how to use wood glue and C-clamps to repair a dresser drawer, doesn’t mean I can design and build a solid cherry armoire. In the same way, almost anyone can write a story, but to write a good story, you have to learn the elements of successful storytelling and how to mold your idea around them.

woodtools Like most of you, I started writing stories when I was a child, and as I grew older I wrote better stories, but now, I want to learn how to write good stories. Maybe I don’t have the talent to write publishable short stories. Learning how to use carpentry tools doesn’t guarantee me the mastery to turn out a beautiful piece of furniture. Maybe a footstool is the best I can do. So be it, but I have to find out.

I read many novels, but few short stories, so one step toward my goal will be to read more stories. Also, I read a lot about novel writing, but not so much specifically about story writing, so concurrent with the previous step, I’ll be studying the structuring of a short story, the craft work. Then I will write. Then I will submit what I’ve written. Will my stories be published? Stay tuned to find out.

Would you like to add your own thoughts about writing vs. crafting?

Photo credit: Scott Adams
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23 thoughts on “Writing vs. Crafting

  1. For me learning how to write a short story was critical. It was where I found out who I was as a writer. I’ve had over forty short stories published and my work has appeared in several anthologies— then came the novel. (The one that got published, anyway.) It’s strange because at the time that I was writing “Bitter, Sweet” I’m not even sure I was aware of the fact that I was writing a Y/A novel. My short stories had eventually settled into a place where many of my MC were kids. It was where I was comfortable , where I liked to be, a place just for me and, I was being published. (In literary magazines, no less.) I’m sure that was part of my confusion because I was writing about kids and for an adult market.

    I think a short story allows you to find out where you belong as a writer, at least it did for me. This is not to say that I won’t feel differently down the road because that is the beauty of life, the fact that what serves as our truth today may become something totally different tomorrow.

    I hope you have great fun with your short stories, Linda. I hope you come to enjoy writing them as much as I do.

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    1. Thank you for sharing, Laura. And thank you for wishing me well in my quest to write a marketable story.

      Until recently, all my short stories were horror, or at least dark. I really don’t think I want to write like that … of course, yesterday I took the challenge of writing from a prompt and immediately went dark. Not that any of my dark stories are good, but I really hope that’s not who I find out I am as a writer. I’m not mean to write light and fluffy either, but I hope it’s somewhere in between.

      Oh shoot! Saying that just reminded me of a thought I had in a dream last night: that I try too hard to stay in the middle. Hmmmph. 😦

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      1. Linda, I’m now curious what kind of dark you like to write. Dark can be good. I once considered writing a post on the benefits of dark fiction; however, the kind of post I wanted to write would have required purchases of psychology journals for research.

        Anyway, I agree with your dream. I’m unsettled by the recurring issues in my fiction but know an attempt to omit them completely would kill my ability to write.

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        1. Ann, the kind of dark I meant was horror stuff. More supernatural than psychological. But I don’t shy away from emotional darkness. There’s plenty of that in my current novel. Actually, I do understand that even when you write about the monster in the closet, it’s really an exploration of the darkness within us all. I just think I’d rather write about that directly now.

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  2. Thank you for this post! My interpretation is that crafting is a step beyond writing; “writing” is material for a piece of art, crafted by careful thought of how the overall piece holds together and functions.

    Crafting is harder, because one needs the skills for writing plus some.

    I’m certain I don’t yet know how to build a solid cherry armoire that’s usable and recognizable as such. The drawers may hold together and look fine, but they don’t work well with the frame.

    Good luck in your studies. I hope you’re quicker to master crafting techniques than I am.

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    1. Yes, crafting is harder and made more so because not everyone agrees on how to do it. I guess we just have to learn what we can and then follow our instincts. Good luck to you too, Ann.

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  3. At least for the next six months I’m going to be concentrating on reading and crafting stories. It will be fun to be working on the same thing. I’ve already started with this new Alice Munro collection I’m reading, and it’s amazing what I’ve learned in the last few days just from taking one of her stories apart.

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