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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: The Writer’s Skill/Craft (04/22/10)

TITLE: Learning a trade
By Tom Rinkes
04/24/10


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To pen a line, a thought, an emotion that the reader will read—and then read again—takes skill. To do this year after year means the writer has crafted that mastery in their own right. The majority of us have to seek higher learning to write effectively, so we do, and the more we write the better we become. Whether we know it or not, we are learning a skill, and new words and phrases come to us daily, until someone refers to us as a “Wordsmith” or a “Grammarian”. If I shoed horses, I'd be called a blacksmith, wouldn't I? I'll take that over what I've been called in the past.

Who among us writes just for the fun of it? I know I say I might be at the time—like when I started this article—but the further I get it becomes...work that I enjoy. I do my best to craft each word carefully, avoid the cliches and use the skills I've learned so far to make sentences crisp and sensible. Luck has nothing to do with it, so writing has to be a learned behavior.

Take some of the writers in the Bible for instance. I'd say that the two that have influenced me the most are Moses and the Apostle Paul. We know that Paul was an educated man because he was a member of the Sanhedrin, or at the very least took orders from them. To obtain that position he must have been a Rabbi first, and that took years of study. So he thought carefully every word he wrote, and designed each thought to blend into the next. This is what good writers do in B.C. or B.C.E or A.D. Paul had to use the same techniques then as we do now.

Moses on the other hand was raised in the House of Pharaoh, so he would've had the benefit of the finest education. I believe that the Torah (first five books) were dictated to him by God or the Angel of the Presence (Jesus?) Still, he had to fall back on his writing skills taught to him by Egyptian scribes, and write down God's Word, word for word. Gonzo journalism, on that mountain, would just never do.

My favorite authors are Truman Capote, Agatha Christie, Steven King and Nelson Demille. When Capote wrote that the people of Holcomb, Kansas locked their doors at night after the gruesome murders of the Clutter family, he phrased it:
“...they were afraid...afraid it could happen again” I felt what they felt through his cleverly CRAFTED words.

When King wrote “The Storm of the Century” and why the town's sins of the past had came back to haunt them because of Delores Claiborne, I went back and re-read his early book about her. If he did that intentionally, then he's a SKILLful writer, even if he is a little sick in the head.

Hercule Poirot is a fruitcake—a genius—but a fruitcake nonetheless. I find it hard to believe that Christie just made him up. Good writers obtain keen powers of observation, so she must've known someone like the detective, then studied him. If so, she made a concerted effort, and that's practicing her chosen CRAFT.

Nelson Demille is a real-life retired N.Y.P.D. Detective who writes crime novels and mysteries. He put his years of service and the forced study of human nature's seamier side to use in his characters. He applied his SKILL at observing people to put it to some very good plots that I have always enjoyed.

All good writers have the skill of connecting with the reader, or else they'd be anything but. I only wish that the forty years I abused alcohol and played reckless with the Lord didn't happen, and maybe I would've started writing a whole lot sooner.


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This article has been read 229 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Mildred Sheldon04/29/10
This was very interesting and I agree whole heartedly with this story. God does what God does best. When He is ready for us to move than so be it. All in God's time. Keep writing.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/29/10
I enjoyed how you've been inspired by other writers. Your last paragraph felt a little disjointed, but I could see you expanding on it and coming up with a terrific testimonial or devotion. Keep writing and never give up on your dreams!
AnneRene' Capp 05/01/10
Great testimony and a lot of knowledge packed into this!
Jan Ackerson 05/03/10
This is well-crafted!

Just the same, it felt a little bit cool--would have liked to see more of your own personality shine through.

Have you been to the forums on this site? There's a thread there with lessons for beginning and intermediate writers. I'd love to have your input there--your writing is very strong.