Monday, April 18, 2011

Why confidence is the signpost of better writing

More and more, I'm coming to the conclusion that the magic ingredient for writing is confidence. Knowing not just what your story, but also where it's going, who your characters are, what they're going to do or say. That assurance permeates every word of a script or story. It tells the reader: I know where I'm going. Come with me.

Writer's block is where confidence fails. The writer doesn't know their story or their characters or their world. Maybe they haven't done enough research. Maybe they haven't dug deep enough into their creations. Maybe they've lost confidence in their idea, their reason for writing the story, for writing in this genre or for this medium.

A writer with confidence has a boldness that engages. As a reader, you know you're in the hands of someone with skill, something to say and the means to express that. It's the difference between getting in a car with a learner at the wheel and being the passenger of an experienced driver. You relax, you sat back, you enjoy the ride.

Confidence isn't always born of experience, and experienced writers aren't always confident. Many feel like pretenders, waiting to be found out. Of course, experience does foster confidence. Once you've done something, you know a little bit more of what to expect, so the next time isn't so terrifying, so filled with unknowns.

But there are writers with limited experience whose work brims with confidence. I'm in the midst of marking a load of MA Creative Writing student submissions, and some of their efforts are bursting with verve and wit and confidence. Why? Because they know what they're doing. They know their world, their story, their characters.

No hesitant prose, no unconvincing characters, no limp as lettuce dialogue. The work boldly goes, not giving a shit about splitting infinitives. It's brimming with brio, replete with resplendence. The writers have found their voice and it's expressed through the boldness of their writing. That's where it counts. Onwards!

No comments: