Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Few Of William Berhardt's "Don'ts"

     Some of the wisdom I shared from William Berhardt in my last post came from part of his presentation he called "10 Wrongs That Don't Make A Writer". These don'ts are some commonly quoted beliefs about writing. A few of them I'm not going to comment on because to me they seem like things only amateurs or non-writers would think.
     Among the notable ideas he refuted were:  "There is a difference between Literary and Genre fiction", "Men can't write woman characters and women can't write men characters", "Fiction is not autobiographical", and "Writing is an art and can't be learned".
     I agree with the simple way Bernhardt addressed the first one. He said, "Literary fiction is a Genre." This is true and while some people will argue that there is a difference between literary and commercial fiction, I think literary can also be seen as a kind of commercial fiction.
     Bernhardt gave several examples of great writers in every genre who created characters that were the opposite gender of themselves very successfully. I think it simply depends on how well the writer can relate to their characters of either gender. I write my Fragments of Daylight stories from the perspectives of various characters in my series; some of them male, some female, some animal.
     On the subject of what part of fiction is autobiographical, Bernhardt said all writing, including all genres of fiction and non-fiction, are in some way autobiographical, because all aspects are "filtered through the mind" of the writer. This includes the bad stuff and the evil villains. How things are presented tells the reader a lot about the writer.
     According to Bernhardt and I'm sure many other people, writing is an art, but it is also a craft and craft can be learned. I personally believe that some art can be learned. Don't artists take classes and lessons on how to create certain works? They learn about different mediums, perspective, and  how to use light and shade. This could be described as the "craft" part of art, but I feel it's much the same thing.
     If you get a chance to view a video of William Bernhardt's seminar, I highly recommend it. We can never stop learning how to improve our writing.

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