Friday, August 14, 2009

WRITER'S MOMENT - Dean Wesley Smith

The Poker analogy just works for me.

Stages of a Writer
Published by Dean Wesley Smith
at 11:37 am, August 12, 2009

Before I get to the new series of posts about killing sacred cows of publishing, I wanted to just toss this idea out there.

For a while, I played at playing semi-professional poker, traveling to tournaments, and learning as much as I could from every source I could. (I have a full shelf unit of poker books.) And, as a writer, I liked watching people as well at the poker table, and I came to some conclusions backed up in different ways by different poker experts. Basically, boiled down into my words, there are four basic types of hold’em poker players.

Beginner (Poker Player): This player looks at his cards and that’s all that matters. Often they wouldn’t know a good starting hand, and any two cards suited seems to get this level of player excited. They seldom fold and couldn’t care what any other player is doing, or even what cards are on the board. They are always surprised when they lose.

Beginner (Writer):
These writers are focused only on one thing: Writing a good sentence. To this level of writers, sentence-by-sentence writing is all that matters. No clue how to actually build a story or characters or pacing or anything else. Beginners think pretty sentences equal good writing.

Intermediate (Poker Player): This player knows decent starting hands, pays attention to the cards on the board, and sometimes even pays attention to other players, but more often than not just gets angry when someone is pushing a pot they want to draw at cheaply. They blame the dealer, blame other players, and want deck changes. They have no real idea what another player has in their hand and often think they should have won a pot when all the clues were telling them otherwise. These players are fond of telling you what cards they laid down that would have won.

Intermediate (Writer):
This writer is still focused on sentences, but glimmering of story process is starting to come through. Often this writer does something naturally well and gets praised for it, but this level writer often gets lost and trapped for years in workshops, where people tell them about their sentences, about their grammar, about their syntax, and so on. Understanding story is just a glimmering on the edges and story has no focus to this writer. Writing is still sentences and heaven forbid you change viewpoint in a chapter or paragraph. This level of writer follows “rules” completely.

Read the rest of the post here:

No comments:

Post a Comment