Monday, July 20, 2009

Happy Manic Monday everyone. Truth be told, I'm exhausted. I started my vacation on Friday and my weekend has been crazy. Today, I'm stepping back and reminding myself that I'm suppose to be relaxing and not killing myself!

These last few weeks I've been pondering skill vs talent. Personally, I think talent is something that comes naturally to someone and skill is something learned. The perfect combination of these two things is what makes our stars in sports, music, acting, and of course, writing.

I've read comments in other forums and blogs that have lead me to a conclusion. It is easier for an author to learn the skill of writing than to learn the art of storytelling. Am I wrong?

Depending on comments. I would like to offer monthly articles or links to them on the craft. Maybe if I lucky a educated guest speaker.

Grammar is my biggest weakness and I'm considering signing up for a basic class since articles are not helping. What is yours and what are you doing about it?


Jeannie Lin said...

I agree with your definitions! I'm very much a believer that practice(skill) trumps talent in the writing domain.

My weaknesses are dialogue and overwriting. I like my prose nice and purple -- too purple sometimes. :) I need to develop a better ear for dialogue as well as learn self restraint and pull myself back.

Sandra Sookoo said...

Personally, I think you must have a degree of talent to succeed in anything. Without talent, no matter how much skill you learn, your endeavor will always read as flat or forced. Have you ever read someone's work and say "Dang, she's got natural talent."

You know it when you see it.

Once talent is in place, you hone your skill. You practice. You learn to enhance what comes naturally :-)

And then you launch yourself.

For me, my downfall is not giving my heroine's enough motivation. But I'm learning ;-)

Rebecca Royce said...

I think if you don't have any talent for writing, you can work 'til you are blue in the face at skill and still not get anywhere. You have to be able to create complicated, complete heros and heroines and then stick them in an interesting situation. That much I think can come from reading or just from natural ability. The rest can be taught but it has to start with you.

Rachel Newstead said...

What little fiction I've done (usually short stories) has been criticized by professionals, teachers, and fellow amateurs alike as not having fully fleshed-out, believable characters. To that criticism I'd add dialogue, for sure, particularly when it comes to how people in a specific line of work speak. My worst problem, however, is plot. Every time I've attempted a novel I've been forced to abandon it because I didn't know where the plot should be headed.

I've never been particularly good at outlining, so I don't know how to get around that last problem.

J Hali said...

I read a quote somewhere once and don't know who to attribute it to: "Great writers aren't born, they learn to write" - or something like that *smile* but I agree TO a degree. You can learn to write, but you must have some talent and imagination to tell the story.

My problem is POV and Head hopping. I want everyone to have a voice immediately and often. But I'm learning this can't happen.

Jillian Stone said...

I am a big believer that creative talent is the key to excellence. All the rest is craft.

The good news about grammar is, it can be learned. So can POV issues like head hopping and show/tell--they can be practiced and applied if you work hard at your craft.

Character development, dialogue, motivation, plot issues are trickier because they combine both instinctual story telling ability and craft.

lienaferror said...

Good question.

My main problem is redundancy. I am forever repeating things, sometimes in the same paragraph. I also do that with words as well. I need to work on my wording.

I also need to work on keeping in my characters head. I sometimes slip away and have to find my way back.

Great post!


Esme said...

I agree with Rebecca wholeheartidly. You can take all the workshops in the world, but if you don't have a talent for writing, agreeing with Sandra here too, the writing will feel fake and forced. I've seen all the in between. Writers who have written for years, taken workshops after workshops to learn how to write and their writing is missing that special spark, then I've seen someone who has never written a word pick up a pen and blow me away with the first thing they write, then (this is where I think most of us fall) there are the ones I consider rough, the talent is there, lurking in the background, but it needs to be polished and brought forth with learning the craft.

As far as I am concerned, talent is the building block to exceptional writing.

As for what bogs me down. Sagging middles, lol.

Rebecca Rose said...

I believe it takes a certain amount of talent to be a writer. But you have to hone that talent to make it the best it can be. I wrote my first novel with no education in writing. And while it was good, without the proper training, it wasn't excellent. I've learned so much in the editing process, which I don't think I would have learned in a classroom.

I head-hop alot and my spelling is aweful!!


annie nicholas said...

Thank goodness for microsoft word spell check. LOL

RKCharron said...

Hi :)
Thank you for a great blog post.
Talent has to be there for the artist and skill is the honing of the talent into professionalism.
Grammar still trips me up at times as does spelling but at least I know the word I want if not exactly how to spell it.
Elements of Style is the bible for any writer and I've practically memorized it.
Love from Canada

Z(Aasiyah/Nolwynn) said...

My biggest problem is that I don't know how to tighten, especially not in first draft stage! I write very lengthy, and then it has to be cut, cut, cut!

I agree with the comments here that say that you need a dose of talent to be able to write. Like all arts, talent is the foundation of honing the craft. For example, I studied creative visual art for many years and my drawings and stuff were okay, but not brilliant. My father never stepped into an art class but his paintings have been exposed in galleries here.

Skill can be learnt, talent is inbred.



Frances Pauli said...

I agree that talent is a key ingredient, but I hesitate to underplay the importance of Craft only because, in any talent based industry, you get a lot of folks thinking they don't need to study in order to succeeed.
The idea that you can survive on talent alone is a misnomer, even the best must hone, and improve and learn to stay the best.

Jason Barret said...

Hi Annie,
If you need a guest blogger on grammar I am available as I have grammar errors scattered throughout my book! ;-) (Joking not volunteering)

Talent, of course, is a prime ingredient and skill is also a necessity element but imagination is the thread that pulls them all together. No matter how skillful the words are put to paper and how beautifully they are strung together the story must be new, exciting and able to draw the reader into the world you have created with these words.

Articles and guest bloggers on any of these subjects would be a great asset to aspiring writers. Thanks for helping to promote our craft.

Rae Lori said...

Great blog post and awesome comments. If my brain wasn't dead I'd toss in my own two cents but I agree that it takes a mixture of talent and skill to pen a great story. Everyone has a story in them it's just a matter of knowing what works for you as a reader and what will click with other readers.