Wednesday, August 29, 2012

I turn yet again to Lu Chi's Wen Fu

There is a reason why writers must read from the genre that they wish to write in.  They must know what others are producing and most importantly how they are going about it.  It is necessary to examine the art to grow into the artist, to watch the masters to learn to master the craft.

Lu Chi said it best.

When cutting an axe handle with an axe,
   surely the model is at hand.
      (Lu Chi's Wen FuThe Art of Writing, Translated by Sam Hill)

These words are so apropos.  It is not the plot, the setting or the characters used.  It is how the plot is imbedded in the story and how the characters are designed and put into motion.  It is the choice of the right word and the reason why it is right.  It is the reader crying even when the character's eyes are dry. 

Writers must apprentice themselves to the masters.  We must look closely in the same manner that the jeweler puts on his magnifying lens so he can evaluate the emerald and its unique setting.  Do the same as the farmer who runs the soil through her hands, or the wine maker sniffs the wine.  We must understand the process and product of the art of writing.  We must read closely the models at hand.

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