The Writing Craft: Editing & Honing Is a Life Learning Experience
Telling a story well is not easy to accomplish. For centuries people have been seeking out the best format and sentence structure to utilize in our prose. It is a never ending journey, evolving with the changing world as the language and methods used to tell a fascinating tale change too.
From the early days of Cuneiform script etched on clay tablets using reed as a stylus –
to the scrolls stacked in the Library of Alexandria –
to the artful books scribed by pious monks –
then flash forward to the halls and racks in the Library of Congress, filled with over 36 million books (also other materials)
– mankind strives to write the best story possible.
Historical styles used in the writing craft:
The classic Chinese poetry of Book of Songs or Shijing comprising of 305 poems dating back to the 7th centuries BCE, was considered to be folk songs for the people yet each poem displayed a literary polish, and used the style of a meter with a four-character line structure.
Sangam literature, one of the first societies discovered that dealt with human feelings regarding love, war, government and loss, in the poems composed by Tamil men and women of all professions and classes back in 300 BCE.
Centuries later the Greeks wrote tales and literary works still read today – The Iliad and The Odyssey were composed with vivid depictions of travel, war, honor and loss, love and hatred – all mixed into wonderful stories still held in high regard for their literary essence.
A written road traveled from Sanskrit, Medieval, Persian, Jewish, Japanese, Renaissance, Baroque, Early Modern….
up to today’s Post Modern and now we are here – the 21st century literature.
A new push is upon us, liberating many new authors who in the past had no hope to be heard. Self-publishing has made it possible for anyone with a story to reach out to readers. Responsibility comes with this privilege.
Whether we are a novice author or have been published for years, there is common ground for us all. The writing process is a continual learning adventure. We need to be open to new ideas and willing to learn.
When we write, the editor within us learns by trying out new phrases, replacing words in search of that exquisitely, well built, beautifully articulated sentence.
Each decade as our language evolves we strive to reach the public ear, while pursuing for good writing structure. All authors need to stay current with the times and connected to the readers to remain relevant.
There are many ways to edit for the final work to shine.
Many have written books on style and form. For a list check out HERE. The trick is to use them all, but always keep your target market in mind. We write for them, so they need to understand our underlying message. The average person may not have the vocabulary range of a literary connoisseur.
It is important for our writing to sound true for the reader intended.
This comes down to the style you want to use.
All writing can be good writing. Even the colloquial can be done well. Not many will disagree that The Catcher in the Rye written in 1951 by J. D. Salinger used the language of the youth in those days, some swearing (okay – a lot of swearing) and a very down to earth manner, yet it was of great literary relevance.
As we write and edit remember our audience, as well as the rules of good writing.
For me there is ONE RULE –
write the very best you can with your current ability.
Let’s face facts. Once a work is completed and time passes, surely that same writer can go back to the very same piece and edit again, even more brilliantly than done the first time.
Another literary giant, Walt Whitman revised Song of Myself five times.
Who am I to argue?
WHY is this so? Because we continually hone our craft, as we write and read, and we never will be truly ‘accomplished’. Down underneath it all we have much in common – novice and mufti-published authors –
We are all life learners, honing our craft.
More Info –
2014 Library of Congress National Book Festival
Open Culture The best free cultural & educational media on the web