So you think you can write?
Well, it’s a nice thought, at least. There are alternative thoughts out there, and most of those are unhelpful, if not self-degrading. Thinking you can write is the first step, really, in a long journey of self-education and practice. I think I can write, therefore, I can. Makes sense to us. If you’ve made it this far in the process, if you’ve found your self-confidence, if you’ve found the willingness to work hard, the obvious question arises: now what?
It’s a good question.
Be warned: there are a lot of answers out there, answers given by those interested in making a fast buck off your lack of knowledge. This is nothing new. An educated person making money off the uneducated is as old as the days of barter and trade. It’s even easier for those sorts of salespersons when the writer in question has completed the first step, the ‘I think, therefore, I am’ step.
Lucky for you, we are not in that business.
Now we are going to say something unpopular. Writing is both art and craft. Writing is an art in that it can be looked at subjectively, with an appreciation for the finer aspects and qualities that make each work individual, unique, and fresh. Writing is also a craft, though, in that it can be looked at in an objective light, shining in from the outside. Craft is a lot like the ‘look what I made’ moment at the end of summer camp, when you have your macaroni-and-glue masterpiece in hand as you meet your folks by the car. What were their faces like when they saw the product of all that hard work? Was it (false) joy and placation? Or was it a real ‘wow!’? Were they thinking, Daniel, that other kid, he put together his macaroni way better than our kid did …
Either way, it is here, at this point, that your writing, an art in the subjective sense, is judged by those who cherish the craft, the way the work was woven together. If it was made well, we know. If it wasn’t crafted well, we know that, too, and don’t let anyone fool you into thinking that all art is equally valuable. That thought process is false. What’s valuable is that art is done in all different perspectives, giving a multi-cultural point of view on a varying number of topics, but not all art work can be valued the same, because not all art work is done well. It can remain valuable to you, and that’s fine, but remember that some writings are just not as good as other writings; some Horror Fiction is not as publishable as other pieces of Horror Fiction. You would not hire a burger-flipper to cook you a 10 course meal, heavy on the sea-food. This is obvious: this blog post will never be worth more than a first edition ‘The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It just hurts more when it’s your own personal work being taken to task. We know that. After all, this poor blog post …
Fine, so we get it, right? Some writing sucks. This blog post isn’t Grade-A. Big deal. But is there a way for an aspiring writer to become better? Is there a way that we can improve our writing?
Our answer is a giant: YES! But we won’t kid around, either, and pretend like there is one answer that will solve all your problems. It is more like this: there are a ton of answers that will solve your problems, and you have to understand each answer in at least a minimal form in order to perform well when crafting fiction. To better yourself, it takes a lot of hard work, a lot of reading, a lot of study, and, above all, an ability to remain objective when it comes time to re-evaluate your work.
So what’s this page all about?
This is intended to be a guide for aspiring writers, a resource to be used by those interested in the craft. It may also help writers interested in submitting to DeadLights and Shotgun, because we plan to cover tips and tricks that relate to writing Horror Fiction. This page will be added to often, so keep checking back and checking in. It is our belief that, the more you know (and the more you know about how to implement the more you know), the better off you will be when it comes time to submit your art for publication.
That’s a special time, you know; the time I’m talking about, the small space between composition and submission, the time just before you become:
First entry coming soon …