May 3, 2021 – Los Angeles: Don’t believe anyone who tells you that only “literary” writing is an art form.
There is a viewpoint out there that seeks to make less of anyone who writes “popular” or “genre” fiction by a general consensus that writing for entertainment is less worthy or artistic than writing on an intellectual level. It seems that the fewer people are able or educated enough to understand the book, the better it is considered to be.
American best-selling author, L Ron Hubbard, says in his book Art: “ART is a word which summarizes THE QUALITY OF COMMUNICATION.” You see that it doesn’t say the quality of the content. Who is to judge the quality of the content? Who is to say that a murder mystery is less worthy than The Life of Pi (a recent Booker Prize winner)? Is Harry Potter a lesser piece of literature merely because the author is now the richest writer on the planet?
No, the criterion is: does Harry Potter communicate? The answer has to be “Yes,” since millions of kids all over the world are reading it, not to mention millions of adults.
Write what you want to write, whether it’s highly intellectual or just plain fun. The type of fiction doesn’t matter. What matters is learning and knowing your craft. There are rules and guidelines to writing, and they exist to further your communication. Your message will ride better in a well crafted piece of writing, and it will communicate better.
In the same essay, Mr. Hubbard says: “The communication is the primary target. The technical quality of it is the secondary consideration.”
Which begs the question, is Harry Potter technically perfect? No, it isn’t. To my mind, the last one was too long, Harry’s anger was contrived and repetitive, and the structure left a lot to be desired. But it was still a rattling good read. It communicated.
The quality of your communication is dictated by your mastery of writing methods, along with your individual talent. That’s what makes it art. Write, write, write. Read a book on writing methods, use what is most appealing to you and what will help your writing. Then forget about it, and just write some more. Because, as we have seen, communication is more important than the technical quality.
You’ll find your best writing comes by simply writing, without thinking too much about it. That way you stay out of your own way. When you’ve got the story down, wear your editor’s hat and make analytical corrections, using what rules, guidelines and methods you know. The more you write, the more you edit, the less you’ll have to edit in the long run.
And the moment you are communicating what you want to say, your writing has become an art.
Liz Bailey resides in England, and has had 18 novels in the historical romance genre published by Harlequin Mills & Boon. Ms. Bailey is working on her second mainstream novel, which deals with supernatural phenomena. She can be reached at: email@example.com