7 tips from William Faulkner on How to Write Fiction

As I was looking around for interesting articles on the craft of writing fiction, I stumbled upon this list that is comprised of seven points William Faulkner made throughout his teaching that help tremendously with writing. I felt that every point made stuck with me and made sense. There were three points in particular that really stood out to me since they were aspects of writing that I think about often and appreciated that someone could provide some answers.

The first point, “Take what you need from other writers” is a point I wasn’t expecting to see but is an issue I think about frequently. Today in writing and all areas of academia we strive to be unique and stray from similar ideas in fear of begin accused of plagiarism. Faulkner says that a writer “takes whatever he needs, wherever he needs, and he does that openly and honestly because he himself hopes that what he does will be good enough so that after him people will take from him…” This quote makes so much sense to me and makes me feel like although plagiarism certainly does exist, there is still a line between stealing verbatim and simply using ideas or themes because you as a writer are inspired. Writing is an art and art is meant to be shared, the fact that someone wants to base ones writing off of yours should be flattering and not taken as something being maliciously stolen due to lack of creativity.

The third point, “Write from experience—but keep a very broad definition of “experience”’ also stood out to me as it is something I practice every time I write. I thought it was really cool how Faulkner suggested that things you “experience” can come from books you read or other parts of your life that don’t necessarily directly affect you but still move you to want to write. When I write I try to loosely base it off an experience I had or heard about and could then translate it into a whole new story with the same emotion. Some people feel the need to write experiences so literally and they miss out on adding the ‘creative’ part to ‘creative writing.’

The final point that stood out to me was number seven, “Don’t make excuses.” This point is pretty self-explanatory, but reassuring and effective nonetheless. It’s easy to come up with excuses not to write and let life get in the way of working on your craft. The point Faulkner makes here is that there are no legitimate excuses, you can always find time to work on your writing if you truly want to be a writer. Sometimes it can be difficult to take time away to focus on writing since it’s such a demanding task, but if it’s truly a passion and necessity in your life then you will make time to become a better writer.

I hope you take the time to read the article, it’s short but all the points are inspiring and helpful.


Link: http://www.openculture.com/2013/03/seven_tips_from_william_faulkner_on_how_to_write_fiction.html


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