Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The "Best" Training for Writing a Novel?

Have a look at this blog post over at WritersWrite.com. It has to do with whether technical writing (such as writing a computer book, or documentation to this or that) is "real" writing. A link in that article goes to a piece in the Deseret News in which a Professor Hatch (a former technical writer) contends that journalism and technical writing are the best training for writing a novel.

Maybe my viewpoint is skewed, because I've done so many kinds of writing, but I disagree. Writing--not a specific kind of writing--is the best training for writing a novel. People are not going to be good novelists because they were good tech-writers or journalists; they are going to be good novelists because they are good novelists. Writing a novel requires more than skill with language and observation, although any writing experience helps.

If Professor Hatch or anyone else is bothered that much by people who say they're not "real" writers, why not just do a general-interest nonfiction book (if not a novel) to bolster your credentials for the people in the high seats? For too many people, if they don't see it with the other books in Walmart or the local bookstore, it's not "real."

1 comment:

Robert S. Morner said...

As a working technical writer, I tend to agree with you. WRITING, regardless of the type, is what educates you on becoming a writer.

That's not to say, though, that technical writing principles can't help you in more creative writing. Good tech writing requires you to consider your audience, for example. And isn't that exactly what you need to do if you're writing a book for children? Or an article on building model cars FOR people who build model cars? Also, the importance of word choice...that "utilize" sounds more important (and pretentious) than "use." Just to name a few examples...

Overall, though, it IS the writing. I think some tech writers are maybe a little defensive about their particular area of concentration and they have to try to justify it somehow. Why can't all writing just get along?!