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What a writer can learn from the arts.

What the arts can teach you about writing.

Writing and the arts.

Writing and the arts

What A Writer Can Learn From The Arts

What are the “arts”?

According the the dictionary the fine arts are:
  1. 1.
    creative art, especially visual art whose products are to be appreciated primarily or solely for their imaginative, aesthetic, or intellectual content.
    “the convergence of popular culture and fine art”
  2. 2.
    an activity requiring great skill or accomplishment.
    “he’ll have to learn the fine art of persuasion”
    The traditional subdivision of the Arts, being ArchitectureSculpturePainting, Literature, Music, Performing, and Film. The Seven Liberal Arts, being grammar, logic, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy.

    What can a writer learn from the arts?

    What relevance to the arts have to writing? Well, first of all literature is part of the seven arts. The snobs will say that all writing isn’t literature, reserving that classification for what they believe is good writing. Books like: The Old Man and the Sea, Moby Dick, Call of the Wild, The Scarlet Letter, Pride and Prejudice, The Great Gatsby, Lord of the Rings, A Talk of Two Cities, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, etc.
    The definition of Literature is:
         written works, especially those considered of superior or lasting artistic merit.
         “a great work of literature”
        books and writings published on a particular subject.
        “the literature on environmental epidemiology”
        leaflets and other printed matter used to advertise products or give advice.
    So we, as writers should aspire to be writers of literature…or should we? That is a question you need to ask yourself. Do we really need to be like Hemingway or Louisa May Alcott? Or more like J.K. Rowling and Nora Roberts? That is a question you have to answer for yourself. But you can learn from the arts.

    What you can learn from the arts.


    The big take away from comedy is your audience. You need remember or discover who your audience is. If you are giving a routine that the over sixty crowd would enjoy to a younger adult crowd, then you may not get the reaction you want.

    The main thing is that as a writer, you have to write for a specific audience. Also remember that not everyone will enjoy what you do. Every comic has had to deal with a heckler. We so do writers. Because we can’t bring them into the story, we ignored them but learn from them also. They can point out a shortcoming that might make us a better writer. Bottom  line, don’t engage but use the criticism as a learning point while ignoring the trolls who give you a bad review because they didn’t get what they wanted from you.


    The photographs need to be framed in the real world and real life. They can be manipulated to look unreal, but they need to come from reality. When writing fantasy, an author needs to keep the reader grounded by using situations that resonate with the reader. If the reader can’t relate to what is going on, you will lose them.

    Writing is all about teaching people how to live life. This is true in all genres. I’m sure you have watched a movies and thought “don’t open that door” before the poor person did and ended up in major difficulties. That is how you learn that you don’t want to open every door to see what is behind it.  Bottom line here is to keep it real so readers can relate to what is happening in the story.


    Your work must speak for itself. If it doesn’t no one will understand it and as the artist, you can stand there and explain it to everyone who sees the painting. The same for writing. If no one understands it, they won’t read the book and few will buy it. There are those snobs who feel that certain works are great simply because they don’t make a lot of sense. I don’t know about you, but I want to read something I can understand and enjoy.

    So that can of soup in the middle of a canvas needs to make sense to people. Or those splashes of color need to be pleasing to the eye and brighten up a room to be enjoyed. Find what people want and you paint or write to that want or need. There is a reason that landscapes, still life and portraits sell. They have all been done for thousands of years. Think about it. Is there really and story that hasn’t been told? It’s all in the way you put it together and make it different that makes people want it. I’ve seen pictures of the same scene but each one is different and the one that you like may not be the one someone else will like.


    It doesn’t have to be perfect. A missed note here and there doesn’t destroy the over all composition when played. Make it as good as you can get it and go with it. As long as the music is pleasing to the ear and those hearing it enjoy it, then the players have done their job.

    I love music. I enjoy the different melodies and stories of the music, but I wouldn’t notice a mistake unless it was so glaring that it jarred me out of my enjoyment of the song. So get it the best you can and move on to the next song. Perfection is over rated.

    Stage and screen

    If your hero won’t save the cat, you might want to rethink what you are writing. Anti heroes are popular today, but they still need to have some likable characteristics. So have them save the neighbor’s cat. It shows they can be nice.

    All people have redeeming characteristics so show them even in your villains. There is no all good and all bad so have them save the cat/dog/child/woman to have the reader relate to them. Jeffery Dahmer was nice, polite and kind to his neighbors yet he was one of the top serial killers of all time. All people have some good in them, so make sure you have them save the cat.


    You have to know physics and construction techniques to be a good architect because you have to design it from the ground up. The same with writing. If you don’t know what makes a solid foundation for a story, how can you write one and make readers want to read it?

    Architects design this beautiful buildings or a basic home or this fantastic bridge but they need to know what works and won’t work in the design. That means learning all the basics. We as writers need to know the basics of story, grammar, plot, and building great characters. If we don’t know the basics we won’t know what we can change while keeping the whole viable and workable.

    Look at houses. They all perform the basic function of putting a roof over our head and giving use a place to live, but houses are different depending on where you are in the world or even in a city. So patterns can be used and the difference is in the details. It is the same with writing. The quality of work will determine the number of buyers you will want to product.

    Summing it all up

    So there you have it. What writers can learn from the arts. There is a lot more we can learn about patterns, beats, logic, mathmatics and writing, and so on. What many don’t understand is how all the things that go into writing. Does it flow? Have a rhythm? Is it logical? Does it make sense? Is it solid or full of holes? Is the ending satisfying to the reader (think music on this one)?

    As a writer, we can’t be insulated from the rest of the arts. What we turn out may not be considered true literature, but it is entertainment. Not every one liked Moby Dick or Emma or Great Expectations. Not everyone will like what you write. So write you your audience, ignore those who didn’t like it and move on. It doesn’t have to be perfect but you do need to building it on a solid foundation to it will be good if not great writing.

    We strive for perfection, but perfect doesn’t mean good. If I had to chose between perfection and enjoyable, I’ll take that enjoyable every time. We writers belong in the fine arts as we craft worlds and people from words. Like all artists, some will always be better than others. So get out there and learn how to be the best you can be at what you do.

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