Advice, Craft, Fiction, Goals, Publish, Tips, Writing

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. I’ve come to love the crafting aspect of both short stories and novels. I think the aspect I enjoy most is the ability to add layers as I re-write passages.

    Many years ago I read an article in The Writer that suggested when writing a column or short essay, it was helpful to have an idea and a half. The half idea ideally adds texture and depth to what you want to communicate.

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  2. I love short stories. They provide much more of what I love in writing to me as a writer. While I want to be a published novelist, and I do enjoy the work and craft of writing a longer work, I also will never, ever ever give up writing short stories.

    Maybe I should learn how to do it right and well, huh? Heh.

    I used to build furniture in … another time, another life. Long ago. I believe anyone patient enough, careful enough, dedicated enough to learn the craft, can learn it.

    So it is with your stories. You will learn. 🙂

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    1. Yes, I will learn but that doesn’t mean I’ll ever be a true storyteller … in shorts or novels. I’m one who believes in that spark of genius that sets the master on a higher level. It’s yet to be seen if I have that spark. It could be there, just needing a little more oxygen. Then again …

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  3. There have been several posts popping up on Twitter today about “voice,” and one stands out for me: http://writerunboxed.com/2010/01/06/voice%E2%80%A6or-volume/

    I don’t know if I have a gift for crafting a good story. I can write well enough, but I don’t know if I have that gift for crafting a good story either. Nor do I know if I’ll ever get a novel published.

    But, I have to trust that once I settle into MY voice, my writing style (whatever you want to call it), then the stories I write will stand out. And, I believe in that old adage, that there’s an audience for everyone. The trick it to find that audience.

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    1. Good link, Christi. But now I have questions for you. You’ve had stories published, right? And still you’re not sure you have the gift? When will you know? And why do you not feel you’ve settle into your voice?

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      1. Ah. Good questions. I’ve had two small publication successes. And, maybe I should hold more stock in those experiences. I guess when I met one goal, I raised the bar and the same questions surfaced: am I good enough for this publication or magazine?

        And, I do feel like I’m beginning to settle into my voice (the blog helps a lot). What I like about all advice on voice lately is the reminders to stay with the path I’m on: don’t divert because of market trends or write a story just because I think people will read it. Write MY story.

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        1. You know, writing to trends is one thing I don’t worry about. Looking back at things I wrote ten years ago, I see I had the same voice then, so I doubt it’s going to change. Not that I can’t refine that voice, but in general I write like I write. Like you said, the trick is to find the audience that likes my voice.

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  4. You are reading my mind today!

    Why is it one writing discipline seems to come with ease, yet another causes vast amounts of frustration?

    Novel writing fits me like a pair of sweatpants, but writing a short story is a totally different feel. It’s like trying to put on the jeans I wore in the 8th grade.

    I do hope you keep us posted as you learn to write short stories. Maybe there is still hope for me some day.

    Good luck and good writing!

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    1. Oh! It is like that, isn’t it? Learning to economize on words is like squeezing into too tight jeans. 🙂

      I’m not altogether sure one has to write both stories and novels, and I think most writers are better at one than the other, but it’s a challenge and I think we should always be exploring new territory in our writing. I’m sure I’ll share my experiences.

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  5. Linda, Great topic! Not surprised by that comment, eh? Please consider sharing where you find especially good thoughts about how to craft a good short story. I, too, will be looking forward to hearing your insights, reflections and revelations.

    And the idea and a half…that has me thinking. A topic worth discussing further.

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    1. To be honest, it always surprises me when someone thinks I’ve written a good post. 🙂

      I will certainly share what I’m learning. I have three stories up for critique later this month, so we’ll see how far I have to go.

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