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What is truth?

I’ll let Sean Cullen tell it as he did in Sorcerer: Interesting Times:

The principles and concepts you will find in these manuals contain engineering truths; truth is what works. However, they neither came from the “mystic realms of the ancient universe” nor were “divinely inspired.”

They are true only if they are true for you. Study them, apply them and see if they work as described. Only then should you decide if they are true for you.

What is one person’s true could be another person’s false. They are at opposite ends of the same scale. Yes, that makes for good conflict in a story, but a dogged stance without an objective knowledgeable viewpoint just makes you a fanatic (knowledge without wisdom).

This entire series deals with people like me who come from a tech writer/analyst/programmer background. We really know what works or doesn’t. The better we run our process, the better our final results turn out.

Larry Brooks says to listen to your own drummer. You’ve got to do that. You’ve got to find out what works for you. You will probably change your own “truth” quite a few times along your road to fiction writing success, but you’ve got to learn what drumbeat is yours. Just banging on the drumhead won’t get you anywhere. Way back in high school, we used to say about a high-school band, “They may not be good, but they’re loud.”

Jazz, jammin’, improv, etc., are all completely valid art forms in music. However, you’ll always find the good performers are experts at the basics. They’ve got their own core competencies in place. Start right now on your competencies; when you’ve become good at writing, then you might consider breaking some of the “rules.”

My brother is an expert programmer, analyst, etc. When we first started working together, one key principle we had was, “If we don’t have time to do it right the first time, when are we going to have time to fix it?”

While the blogs, books, etc., on my recommendations page may not all say it, Randy Ingermanson said it somewhere in his work (paraphrase), “My goal is to make you a competent writer. Once you are competent, you work at becoming a good writer. Some of you might even become great writers.”

It’s a gradient scale. Strive to become competent. Your first couple attempts might be of the “Hello, world” variety, at least you learned how to say that.

Keep working on the competencies. Your artistic and creative ability might make you a good writer – if you’ve got your competencies in place. As for becoming a great writer, well that might be a matter of luck in marketing and acceptance.

Again, I’ll recommend the outline/blueprint method if for no other reason than I believe it is the most efficient. Which would you rather do, spend a year pantsing ten drafts or spend a couple months working within the accepted, known structure?

Way back in the first post in this series, I “argued” that Tech Writers would probably make good fiction writers, then expanded it more in the second post.

Read, study and work on your Craft. Let us know how it’s going.