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How I write (3rd in a series)

I enjoy writing prompts; one of the places I visit frequently for ideas is Diarist.net Spark (they post a daily prompt). When I first saw the prompt for January 30, I was interested:

Voices in your Head — 30 January 2004
List the things that are hanging over your head right now — back entries, school work, personal projects, hobbies, or whatever you're really wanting to get done, but don't have time for.

Then I read the rest:

Give each a voice and character, and script a conversation between them.

Ummmm. Wait...

Give your finals project an Italian accent and the disposition of a gangster, for example, and let it argue with your German gestapo report for work. This exercise is really fun, and can be very relieving.

Oh... Ick! That is so not me.

(Besides which, one surefire way to turn me off is to tell me ahead of time how much "fun" an exercise will be :)

I wouldn't describe myself as a "creative writer".

creative
3. Characterized by originality and expressiveness; imaginative: creative writing.

I must admit that I have written some occasional poetry — mostly very light verse (and it always rhymes). I've done some "creative" descriptions of my cats. But flights of fancy are not my forte (although alliteration adds allure :-).

I've never been particularly apt at writing fiction. I have incredible respect for authors who can create an entire world and people it with believable characters, then keep it going for book after book until I feel that I know these people and this place. I miss the characters when I'm not reading about them; I sometimes wonder what they do when the book covers are closed!

I don't write that way. I'm an expository writer.

expository a. Pertaining to, or containing, exposition; serving to explain; explanatory; illustrative; exegetical.

exposition  n.

  1. A setting forth of meaning or intent.
  2. a. A statement or rhetorical discourse intended to give information about or an explanation of difficult material.
    b. The art or technique of composing such discourses.

I suppose I could say that I try to be, at my best, a creative expository writer ;-)

I've always been much better at exposition, ever since grade school. Some of that may be due to the fact that my writing has always been technically accurate — my punctuation, grammar, and spelling are generally correct. I developed a theory early in school - poor teachers need to put red marks on papers (and there are far too many poor teachers of English). When my papers were technically sound, the only thing to "correct" was my opinions and my creativity.

I soon learned that research papers (e.g. technical and expository writing assignments) were more fun to do and earned much higher grades. When the facts are correct and the technical details are right, it's much more difficult for a poor teacher to find anything to mark down. Also, most technical writing is done for other classes, such as science courses, where the instructor is more interested in the facts of the paper than the "feel" of the writing.

I became an excellent technical writer. One of my primary professional interests today is technical documentation.

I can only blame part of the reason I prefer technical writing on poor teachers, however. For the most part, I'm sure I prefer technical writing because I am, at heart, a techie.

Below are some of the synonyms for expository and creative. My thoughts resonate to the list under expository. Those words describe me better; they suit me better.

Entry:  expository
Synonyms:  critical, disquisitional, elucidative, exegetic, explanatory, explicative, explicatory, hermeneutic, illustrative, informative, interpretive

Entry:  analytical
Synonyms:  analytic, cogent, conclusive, detailed, diagnostic, discrete, dissecting, explanatory, expository, inquiring, inquisitive, interpretive, investigative, judicious, logical, organized, penetrating, perceptive, perspicuous, precise, problem-solving, questioning, ratiocinative, rational, reasonably, scientific, searching, solid, sound, studious, subtle, systematic, testing, thorough, valid

Entry:  creative
Synonyms:  artistic, clever, cool, demiurgic, deviceful, fertile, formative, gifted, hep, hip, ingenious, innovational, innovative, innovatory, inspired, inventive, original, originative, productive, prolific, stimulating, visionary, way out

Entry:  artistic
Synonyms:  aesthetic, creative, cultivated, cultured, decorative, dramatic, elegant, exquisite, fine, graceful, grand, harmonious, ideal, imaginative, musical, ornamental, pictorial, picturesque, pleasing, poetic, refined, rhythmical, satisfying, sensitive, stimulating, stylish, sublime, tasteful

It's not that I'm not creative; I come from a creative family. But I'm more crafty than artistic. I'm much more analytical than either crafty or artistic. I'm inquisitive, informative, logical, problem-solving, questioning, scientific, systematic, and testing. I'm not particularly clever, innovational, inspired, poetic, musical, or visionary, in either my work or my writing.

When I want to visit other worlds and alternate universes and meet new people, I'll pick up Barbara D'Amato or Robert Jordan, or Terry Goodkind. When I want poetry, I'll read Robert Frost or Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

I'm not a "creative writer"; some writing prompts will never grace my journal! But I like the results of my writing (and friends tell me they like it too). What I do, I do well. I'm content with that.

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February 9, 2004 in category Language Arts | Permalink

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