I write stuff for kids...and muse on writing, children's books, and the publishing industry in general

Saturday, April 30, 2011

My A-Z of Writing Tips: Zippers and Writing

(Source)
When you do up a zipper, the teeth must fit together correctly so the slider can travel along them and fasten the chain properly. Simple, when you break down all its elements, but something that must seem like magic to someone who’s never seen a zipper before.

(Source)
In the same way, all the different parts of our writing need to come together in order to make a complete and publishable story. Characters, voice, grammar, scenes, vocabulary, plot, themes, and so on, and so on. Once all these elements are in place, the zipper can be “done up,” and out pops a perfect story.

Or does it?

When you break writing down to its different elements, each seems (reasonably) simple. You can work on each of them until you’ve mastered (to your satisfaction) that component. Problem is, you can’t then hold your breath and conjure up a complete and publishable story just because you’ve mastered all the components. Something needs to hold all the components together, something indefinable. Something magic.

So I think, anyway.

Not everyone has that magic, though it is something we can work at, in the hope we may one day findor createour own little pot of fairy dust.

How about you: Do you think writing requires a pinch of magic? Or is it just a bunch of technical components that anyone can weld together to make a complete and publishable story?






32 comments:

Eve said...

Hey Rach! I think that a good story, and good writing definatley has a pinch of magic! If not a cup! I've given you the Versatile Blogger Award..just to show appreciation for all the help you've been to me, thanks! Head over to my blog to pick it up...I'm sure you know the drill!

Trisha said...

I really can't stand it when I can't get the zippers of my sleeping back to mesh properly :P

mooderino said...

I think we all would like to write with a little magic, but I'm not sure if it's innate or can be acquired. Maybe you have to kill a pixie and use their blood as ink (if only - I'd be out pixie hunting right now).

mood
Moody Writing

Madeleine said...

Definitely magic! I have a coat with a dodgey zipper and it drives me nuts :O)

Timothy Kane said...

I teach writing at the sixth graade level. The students who only follow the structure of writing come out sounding robotic. So yes, there is a bit of magic in the mix.

writesbymoonlight said...

Great analogy. And I think there's a bit of magic involved. :-)

K.C. Woolf said...

I think the hidden depths of our brain, where all the parts of the story come together, are a kind of magic indeed! :-)

J.L. Campbell said...

I definitely believe that along with all the mechanics we learn, there has to be some talent as a storyteller. This is probably the magic you've written about. You know how some people are natural storytellers and can put a spin on the most ordinary material? I think that's what we do as writers. The mechanics improve on what we do, of course.

J.L. Campbell said...

Me again. Just wanted to say what a wonderful thing you've done through the Crusade. I got sidetracked and absorbed with the A-Z, but I did visit my bunch of writers during the month and have linked to them, so it's all good. I missed the last challenge though. Totally forgot. :(
Looking forward to August. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to meet so many lovely people. You rock!

Wendy G. Ewurum said...

This is all true....Rach...the X-factor, the Midas touch

L. said...

From what I've seen, for any reasonably well put-together book there's an appreciating audience out there somewhere. Finding them can be as much of a trick as writing the book...

Ann said...

Definately need to conjure up the magic when writing. But there are times, well most of the time I just can't find my friggin magic wand!!!

Have enjoyed all your Challenge posts Rachael.

Zan Marie said...

Rach, Great Z! I vote that the story is magic. We have to work on the craft to be able to share, but magic is at the heart of all we write. ; )

Suze said...

It's all magic- A to Z. Anyone who tells you differently is selling something. ;)

Wub2Write said...

Zippers & writing. Clever!

I've known writers who are great w/structure, but the story falls flat. And I've known writers whose story is all over the place, yet somehing "magical" pops off the page.

I love when that happens! I think it's voice.

Reece said...

I think you definitely need a touch of magic...called imagination (or vision, if you like). I think that's why we geeks make such great writers! Almost anyone can eventually learn the technical side of writing, but to come up with a great story requires a lot of imagination and out-of-the-box thinking. And generally, people who engage in activities that require imagination are much more likely to use their imagination even without a specific task to stimulate it. Believe it or not, there are people out there who have almost no imagination! Those people will never write publishable fiction.

Carol Riggs said...

What an intriguing post!! You may be right...that magic Something. Voice, style, imagination, pure blind luck? LOL Have a great weekend, Rach!

Book Owl said...

Who would've thought you could compare writing to zippers? :p

I think there is definitely some sort of magic involved to put together a story ;)

Pearson Report said...

Magic all the way!

That being said - it does depend on the type of writing, doesn't it!

I love Zippers! I still like to play with them -drives my daughter crazy!

I've enjoyed reading your posts during this Challenge - they have been very inspiring and helpful too.

I have you on my "reading list" so I will be back to visit, often!

Congratulation for finishing this A-Z Challenge.

Cheers, Jenny

Holly Vance said...

I would call those moments of "being in the" magic. You know those: the ideas flow, you can come up the the perfect word instantly, and you overall feel like a genius. The problem is, they don't come as often as I like.

Josh Hoyt said...

It takes both for sure. You can have the most brilliant mind and still not be able to get on the page what is needed. I struggle with the technical side my mind is overflowing with ideas but to actually get them on paper is the tough part. Another analogy is the idea of a beautiful cake that is served on a silver platter yum! Now think about that same cake thrown in your face, not so yummy:)

Elizabeth Mueller said...

Rach, we did it! Congratulations! I have an award for you!!

Zan Marie said...

Hey, Rach. I thought I'd add that my Celebration Blogfest is up and rolling. ; ) Getting to 200 followers is magic. Though, you know that big time with your numbers.

kmckendry said...

Great analogy! I think there has to be a spark of passion in addition to the fundamentals of writing to be a great story.

Michael Di Gesu said...

ABSOLUTELY! Magic is the glue that holds the story together.

Anyone can learn to write technically perfect. But as you said NOT everyone is blessed with magic. I believe if you have passion in your writing the magic will be there.

Cally Jackson said...

I think someone can write a 'good' story simply by mastering the components. But to write an absolutely touching, unforgettable story, it needs that touch of magic.

Susanna Leonard Hill said...

I agree with Cally - exactly what I would have said!

And even though this is probably not the right page, I wanted to thank you for the Writer's Crusade. I really enjoyed getting to know other writers, reading their awesome blogs, doing the challenges, etc! Such a great idea, and so wonderful of you to put it all together!

Marie Rearden said...

I did zippers for 'Z' as well, but your comments are much more writing-relevant than mine. :) I'm still searching for that darn 'mastery' thing!

Marie at the Cheetah

MMA Los Angeles said...

I think the best writing is the kind that you don't necessarily think about. Feeling it, in a way, produces some of the best writing; at least for me anyway. As Mark Twain said: "Write drunk. Revise sober." Something about that truth serum seems to work...
Ava

Ishta Mercurio said...

Oh, yes - magic, for sure! It's a rare person who can weave all those elements together into something perfect.

Adina West said...

Love your zipper analogy - and a great way to finish your A-Z month.

I do think there are people who can 'write by numbers', follow a formula, or however one wants to state it. But it shows, and it's not as likely to yield a great piece of work.

I think the extent to which an individual writer relies on the 'magic' and that indefinable something extra which makes it all work will vary. Personally, I rely pretty heavily on the 'magic' side of writing, and I hope it never lets me down...

Car Title Loans said...

I think writing, like art, is all in the eye of the beholder. Does it have to make sense to everyone? No, but if you're doing it as art, it just has to be something to you. I think that's the BEST magic :)
Sara

Related Posts with Thumbnails