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  1. tanvi02
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    tanvi02 Member

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    what makes one a good writer - talent or toil?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by tanvi02, Aug 4, 2010.

    what makes one a good writer? do you think writers are born or one needs to brush up with skills to be a good writer
     
  2. TobiasJames
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    TobiasJames Contributing Member

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    If you could answer this question succinctly with a one-size-fits-all answer, you'd be a millionaire. ;)

    Without intending to over-simplify things, I think good writing comes down to mastery of two skills, namely Compositional skills (imagination, vocabulary choices, the ability to plan a plot) and Technical skills (knowledge of grammar and punctuation, writing in the correct register and person, knowledge of the genre). Note: these lists are non-exhaustive.

    In my opinion, the technical skills can be learnt much easier than the compositional element. Imagination is something you've either got or you haven't. But let's face it, if you're already dabbling in writing, you've got it. :)
     
  3. Zane
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    Zane Contributing Member

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    In my humble opinion, I think, yes some people born a little more "gifted" than others for determined things.
    Allthough I think anyone who loves reading, and has the wish of becoming a writer (or just wants to do it as an hobby), even if at the first attempt, the result isn´t good, I honestly believe that anyone can accomplish that result with hard-work, and patience...

    Of course some people take more time than others. For example when I bought my guitar, I learned very fast and i´m self-taughted, but when I tried to draw, my first draws were catastrophic :redface:
     
  4. Northern Phil
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    Northern Phil Active Member

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    In a very general term, I think a good writer is someone who gets published.

    Regardless of grammer, sentence structure and all that you've actually created a piece of work that someone has read and liked enough to publish.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    No one is a good writer without actively developing his or her skills.

    I'm sure someone will point out some noted author who supposedly just sat down, and gold flowed from his quill, but I don't believe it. Writing consists of a lot of hard work and a commitment to continual improvement.
     
  6. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    I think all skills can be developed, and writing is no exception. The only gift a good writer should possess is to be able to enjoy the process of writing.
     
  7. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think one can hone their craft but I think one has to have at least some talent for storytelling. Not any person can just decide to do any career and be good at it. Writing is no exception. In order to be good, I agree that you do have to work at it, but you have to have some sort of natural talent for it or you're wasting your time.
     
  8. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think story tellers are different to writers. The first are born, they don't even need to be able to write or have any education. The wonderful Bothy ballads come to mind.

    The education merely gives you more options when it comes to telling your story. Someone can be an exceptional writer but stink at telling a story. Wheras as long as they can string sentences together a storyteller can write their story in such a manner a lot of people will ignore minor indiscretions in the English, as long as it doesn't make the story unreadable:) Especially as the English language has such varient dialects etc
     
  9. Movie_Pat
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    Movie_Pat New Member

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    Writing is like any craft. Practice and perseverence will make you a better writer.

    Natural talent will probably mark out your limitations as well as dictate the speed of your improvement however.
     
  10. BlueWolf
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    BlueWolf Banned

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    Like everything else, you get better with practice.

    So it doesn't matter how untalented/talented you are, or if you have never been published, or had dozens made available to the book-buying public - you can always improve.
     
  11. VampyresProductions
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    VampyresProductions New Member

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    I agree with everyone whose posted about the ability to hone your skill with practice.

    And while I certainly believe some people are born with talents, practice does indeed make perfect. (talent is just an advantage) ;)

    But I think a good writer is someone whose works evoke some sort of feeling in the reader. A good writer's work draws you in and makes you feel for the characters. :D
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    what makes one a good writer?

    ...inborn talent and well-honed skills...
     
  13. izanobu
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    izanobu Senior Member

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    practice, practice, practice combined with the ability to learn. If you have a love of doing it and are willing (and able mentally, which is somewhat innate) to learn, and you write your little heart out, you'll get better. The running theory on becoming an expert at anything is at least 10,000 hours of practice, so around 1 million words. Write a million words of fiction (or non-fiction or whatever you want to get good at) and I promise you'll have improved.
     
  14. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think I can support that assertion. I've seen too much crap between book covers.

    Despite the old axiom, practice does not necessarily make perfect. If you continue to practice bad habits, you will ingrain the wrong 'skill set' making it all the more difficult to even recognize the mistakes/problems when they are pointed out to you.

    So what do I think makes a good writer? A combination of ingredients. Obviously, one must have a certain degree of knowledge and learning of artistic as well as technical aspects. Some of this may well be inborn in some while others may have to struggle to acquire the basic knowledge. One must have some sort of working awareness of what goes into writing a good book and, therefore, one must read - voraciously - not limiting one's horizons to one author, one genre, one style. One must read not merely for pleasure but for learning. Learn how to distinquish what makes one book good and another, similar one, a stinker. And one must develop a thick skin, be willing to tear one's own writing apart - and allow other, trusted, readers to do so in order to learn what makes one's own writing good, bad, or otherwise.

    Lastly, I believe one must have a passion and unquenchable desire to write. It's a tough business and getting a thousand and one regrets before getting that one request and a contract can be psychologically debilitating if you are not prepared for it or have the drive to overcome.
     
  15. Shinn
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    Shinn Banned

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    Just loads of practice, good spelling and some good creativity.
     
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  16. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Although an interesting (and debatable) response, it has nothing to do with the question posed, which was:
    Your answer has more to do with deciding if someone IS a good writer, not whether a writer ins good because of innate talent or whether hard work is the key.
     
  17. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've changed my mind on this one this week lol I think actually a good writer, is someone who's stories are enjoyed by others. Its still a mix of talent and work, but in someways its just having the right story. So actually think its neither its a case of being in the right places at the right times to garner the ideas.

    I think a good writer is more in the lap of the gods than anything.
     
  18. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    What makes one a good writer - talent or toil?

    Both. You must have the eye and heart to know what you want to write about, and you must have the courage and determination to finish it out.
     
  19. Ron Aberdeen
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    Ron Aberdeen Banned

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    Everything in life is relative; even what makes a writer a good writer is relative to their own evaluation of their work in comparisons with work they are aware of, as are the appraisals made by other people.

    There is no thermometer or none that I know of that can be stuck between the pages of a book to show you if it is hot or not.

    I do think some writers have a natural flare that comes out in their writing but that doesn’t mean that they may be technically competent or a good writer, it just means they can communicate using the written word.

    Some of the most intelligent people I’ve met would appear as bumbling idiots if asked to stand and talk for 10 minutes in front of audience of intelligent people.

    What ever artistic avenue you pursue, there if no doubt that the more you do something, particularly if it is with diligence and honest endeavour, you will improve and hone you skills in that art.

    Writing is such an art, where practice will improve the participant.

    However in writing other external factors can play a part, such as the environment the writer comes from and now lives in, their education, their travel and life experiences and certainly their emotional journey through life.

    All of this develops a writer’s voice.

    But then the media the writer uses to express their voice has a relevance, often ignore in the assessment.

    Poets present their words in a different manner to a novelist or screenwriter.

    So in my humble opinion it is almost impossible to pin down what makes a good writer good other than stating that they are an effective writer, an entertaining writer, an interesting writer or a writer who is different.

    In the end it is all subjective to the view of the reader and the distinct voice of the writer.

    By the way it is a coincidence that the current Blog on my website is entitled “Discovering your voice as a writer”.
     
  20. SilverRam
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    SilverRam Member

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    Banking on 'talent' is a good way to say that life isn't fair and that it's not your fault you're not as good as someone else because they were born with it. That's loser talk.
    So the other option.
     
  21. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I disagree with that. There is no question that individuals differ in their levels of ability. I was a distance runner for many years, but was never going to be more than a middle-of-the-pack runner, no matter how hard I worked, so I worked hard to be the best middle-of-the-pack runner I could be. Accepting your limitations is far from being a "loser" - it makes you comfortable within your own skin.

    Talent is a variable. Work ethic is a variable. Personal choice is a variable. Taken altogether, they provide quite a continuum for success/failure as a writer.
     
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  22. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with Ed. My writing started good and is getting better. However I ain't gonna be a popstar or a sportsperson. Knowing your own potential is the secret to a happy life. Because I know I stink at singing and dancing I can still give it my all and anjoy it, but no point in audtioning for Hairspray or Starlight Express:)
     
  23. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think it would help if we explain what we mean by a "good" writer.

    I don't agree with Elgaisma's statement that a good writer is someone whose stories are enjoyed by others. That can be said about most people - I mean, even the worst published writer has a few fans here and there. That doesn't make them good. Also, the bestseller lists of decades ago were largely populated by books that are out of print and forgotten today. Were they good then, and became bad with time?

    There are also writers who are technically skilled but who often write lousy stuff. Stephen King falls into this category, I think. If he has a good idea, he writes a really good story. If he has a bad idea, he writes a well-written bad story. He doesn't bother sorting good ideas from bad; he just writes whatever he's thinking about. (Because he's very popular, he knows that anything he writes will sell, but that doesn't mean that it's good.)

    I think a good writer is one who has highly-developed technical skills and a vivid imagination, and who, more often than not, has good ideas (or at least, if he has bad ideas, he has enough sense not to write them). I also think that serious, honest work comes into it - there are writers who have virtuoso technique who just spew out stories carelessly, or even while drunk, just because it's easy for them, but I don't regard them as "good" in the sense I mean. I think a writer is good if he or she has the technique, the imagination, the taste and judgment, and the serious work ethic to go with them.

    Technique can be learned. Serious work requires, well, serious work. Imagination and judgment are harder to come by and may be inborn, at least to a large degree.
     
  24. SilverRam
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    I don't consider talent to be something like a person is more observant and thus will have a edge on someone who isn't in let's say, art or writing.
    However even if someone is born with some abilities that helps them in a activity does not mean that 'talent' helped them enough to where hard work wasn't necessary.
    You misunderstood me. Loser talk is not accepting your limitations, loser talk is assuming someone got to where they were on pure 'talent' and that you cannot reach the same because, woe is you, you weren't born with 'talent'.
    Maybe the definitions are different for some people, but to me having a born trait that may be more helpful in doing something than someone else is not talent. These people still have to work at it, and to say they were simply born with talent and so are very good and didn't have to work to get that good is an insult. That is the connotation talent carries for me.
     
  25. Loaded-Dice
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    I think it is a mixture of both, but I believe that natural talent weighs a little heavier than what some above would suggest. You can learn a lot about how to write, how to compose a proper sentence, the grammar, punctuation, structures and all that jazz but you can't learn style or imagination.
     
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