One of my favorite TV shows is So You Think You Can Dance. I watch the episodes streamed on Hulu.com because I’m never able to catch them at the time they’re televised.
While watching the show the other night, I noticed some similarities between dance as an art form, and writing. Dance is an art, as is theater, music, the visual arts, and of course the various literary arts. Each art can be performed with varying levels of creativity.
One of the points made by guest judge Lil' C was how each dancer, as an artist, interprets dance differently. They may each execute the same steps, but it’s how the dance is performed that makes the difference. Some dancers are superb technicians with impeccable timing, posture, extensions, and all the other myriad moves that are choreographed into a performance. But if their heart and style and individuality is left out, they won’t rise above the ordinary. Dancers who give it their all and let themselves feel the joy of dance, who pay less attention to their steps and more to how dance lifts their souls, are the ones who become extraordinary artists.
So I got to thinking about how writing is much the same way. I should change the title of this post to So You Think Can Write a Novel because writing, like dance, is interpreted different ways. There are superb technicians who are competent wordsmiths. Journalists and technical writers might fit in that camp. If you can write an excellent software manual, can you write an equally excellent novel?
Good skill in one area does not guarantee excellence in another even if it’s the same art. Aside from the X factor no one can quite put their finger on, when it comes to writing fiction, there’s so much more to it than good grammar and a knack for stringing sentences together. A great poet may be a poor storyteller, a fabulous storyteller may suck at journalism. I think it’s rare for a writer to be especially good at writing everything, but I’m sure there are exceptions.
By the way, I finally have excerpts from KNIGHT’S CURSE on my website for anyone who would like to check it out. And I hope you’ll come back to visit the blog tomorrow because I’ll be having a contest and one lucky winner will get a signed copy of KNIGHT’S CURSE. The book won’t officially be available for sale until August 23, but I haz books! Mmmhm. ☺
So tell me, writers, are you a good writer? Or are you a good storyteller? Do you think there’s a difference?