1. x_raichelle_x
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    x_raichelle_x Contributing Member

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    The 'X' factor

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by x_raichelle_x, Jan 7, 2010.

    Most of us have heard of The X Factor, if not the show then at least the phrase. It describes that elusive 'special something' that somebody can have, a certain charisma that is seemingly hard to put into words. 'Pzazz' I heard somebody call it once.

    What, in your opinion, is The X Factor in writing? When a writers just 'seems to have it'. What is it about their writing which is so special? Is it their choice of words, the subjects they write about, underlying issues that they explore, or are they able to just mix words in a magical way?

    Which writers do you think have it? Why do they have it? Have they always had it - were their earlier works as stunning as their latter? Or have they lost it, where their work loses some of it's 'Pzazz'? Is it something we are born with or without, or is it something that is worked hard for?

    xxx
     
  2. fantasy girl
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    fantasy girl Contributing Member

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    If a writer has 'The X Factor', they can put anything into words. When I say that, I don't mean 'The Bird sat on a Tree.' I mean 'The Red breasted Robin puffed out his chest as he settled onto a snow covered branch of a lone Sycamore Tree.' or something along those lines.

    They can put emotion into their writing and make it believable. Making the type of worlds we dream of as children into words that recreate those long lost dreams.
     
  3. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    For me, it's how well they show the emotion of both the characters and the story, and the idea they explore. For example, I LOVE (no overstatement) the work of H.P. Lovecraft and Thomas Pynchon, though they are both very different, and in very different styles, they both do the same thing with their narratives: they make you believe it, despite what they are telling you is silly, or even impossible to the logical mind.

    An example from both is - with Lovecraft: The Call of Cthuhlu is the coldest, most cosmic-in-scope story I've ever read, and the writing, and the use of words, reflects a narrator fighting between the knowledge he is discovering that we are a small, unimportant species in a tiny corner of space, and his (as well as our own, as a species) delusion of our own self-importance.

    With Pynchon: take The Crying of Lot 49. Anyone who has (like I have) experimented with hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD and Cannabis can relate to the silliness, fast pace and paranoia we feel when reading the novel. Pynchon takes us through what may, and most likely is, a paranoid delusion of secrets and hidden societies and knowledge, and yet, despite it being rather silly, it is wonderfully believable somehow.

    This is also why I love the band R.E.M., aside from the fact I've been listening to them my entire life, they really make you feel the song, both the soul and the passion in it.
     
  4. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    With the programme, it's the popularity of the singer. With writing, it's the popularity and the relevance of the ideas.
     
  5. Cosmos
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    Cosmos Contributing Member

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    If we're referencing real talent, not just popularity aka Twilight writer who's name I don't care to remember, then the X factor they have is the ability to reach people with their writing. To move them. I find this works with me if the characters are dynamic, the setting is described originally and beautifully, the dialogue is rich and whole story is one that gets to me. It's the kind of book I cannot put down because I must know what happens next.

    I don't think I've ever known of a writer who's been so good that they always produce class X factor works. They usually have a book or two that's stellar and then they fall off the magic wagon and end up subpar.

    Nevertheless I have enjoyed and thought Chris Prierson as having that factor at least with his Kingpriest trilogy. The development of the lead characters is just so very multi-dimensional. Richard Knaak who wrote Legend of Human also had a very moving story.

    While I believe a certain amount of storytelling is innate I believe that most of it comes from years and years of hard work.
     
  6. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    In my opinion, the "it" factor varies greatly for each successful writer in direct relationship to their ability to write for their audience. My wife likes certain authors that I find boring and vice versa. There is no writer who is universally appreciated by all audiences.
     
  7. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    For me it's the language. Great language allows the writer to convey emotions, characterization, etc. much more effectively. The subject matter doesn't matter so much.

    Writers aren't born with the ability to write great works. Like all things, writing must be practiced. Most writers' great works came after tons of practice. Therefore, their earlier works are not as good as their later works (assuming they published at an early age). I'll use McCarthy as an example since he's one of my favorite authors. His earlier works were mediocre compared to what he wrote later in life. It was only when he was in his 40s and 50s that his books began gaining critical acclaim. This was also the time when he wrote some of his best books.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    there's no single answer to any of your questions... it varies from writer to writer, so if there is one-fits-all-answer, it's 'all of the above'...
     
  9. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    ^ that's right, the answer to this question is subjective.

    That said, remember, some people find Dan Brown to be the best writer who ever lived.
     
  10. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    It's all about style. Style is the writing X factor. Anyone can have ideas, anyone can learn grammar, anyone can read a dictionary and learn pretty words. But unless they can put all those things together in a unique, original and engaging way (in other words, with great style) then it won't fly.
     
  11. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    ^ I almost tried to try that point by referring to August Derlieth. But I remembered he didn't really have his own style, he just copied other's styles as well as other's stories.
     
  12. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Imagination.

    You can learn everything by practice. Grammar, styles, story structure, dramatic flow, etc... Those are all just tools of a trade. The one thing you can't acquire if you don't have it, is imagination. That's the X Factor. Without imagination all of the above-mentioned tools are perfectly meaningless.

    Like an architect who can draw perfect straight lines and perfect circles is useless if he cannot imagine his building in all its grandeur. He will end up being the tool of some other architect who does have imagination.
     
  13. Delphinus
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    Delphinus Senior Member

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    The best writer would be able to tell an epic novel in one sentence or describe a flower in a million words, and keep us clinging on to each equally keenly.
     
  14. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Any writer than can describe a flower for more than a page and still be interesting deserves all the pleasures of this world.
     

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