A story is a work of art in words
By Jimmie Epling
Darlington County Library System
Have you ever thought of a story you enjoyed as a child or the tale you recently read as a work of art, a painting? Just as an artist uses paints to create a work of color, line, shade, tone, and depth, so does a writer use words to create a work of art in your mind with setting, plot, foreshadowing, mood, and intensity. The written word is important. It informs.It entertains. It changes lives. At the Darlington County Library System, it is an important part of our stock and trade. Whether you are an aspiring or a seasoned professional writer, the Library is interested in you and your work.
“The worst thing you write is better than the best thing you do not write.” This anonymous quote sums up the challenge faced by all aspiring writers. Writing isn’t easy. Anne Tyler, Pulitzer Prize winning author of 20 novels, including the “Accidental Tourist,” said, “If I felt like writing, I’d never write at all.” Echoing the same sentiment with, “If I waited for perfection,” novelist and poet Margaret Atwood once said, “I would never write a word.” The master of horror, Stephen King, summed up how you write with the remark, “One word at a time.” Writing takes commitment, determination, and the resilience not to give up. Author of the hugely popular 1970s book, “Jonathan Livingston Seagull,” Richard Bach put it this way, “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” If you are an aspiring writer and would like some tips to help you hone your skills, the Library can help!
To get started, check out one of these three books. You can start with Gabriele Rico’s, “Writing the Natural Way: Using Right-Brain Techniques to Release Your Expressive Powers” uses the results of brain research to guide you step-by-step in how to develop your language skills to stimulate creativity, intuition, and imagination in a reader. The author Jack Creed in his book “Capturing the Magic of Fiction Writing” looks at characterization, atmosphere, conflict, theme, plot, and supporting elements in this practical guide to the writer’s craft. Fear, not knowing how to get started, and the lack of inspiration are obstacles you will learn to overcome with Caroline Adams’ “Power to Write” as she inspires you to enjoy the power of writing and the fruits of your own creativity.
Want to write a poem, yarn, a tale, a story, or an epic narrative? Then you may want to look at some guides on fiction writing. “Writing Commercial Fiction” by John Stevenson takes you through plot, characterization, and dialogue in writing romance, western, mystery, suspense, and science fiction novels. How to write stories for young adults, ages 12 to 19, can be found in “Seize the Story: A Handbook for Teens Who Like to Write” by Victoria Hanley. Young adult novels have become very popular and this guide will help you create relevant plots, realistic characters, and believable dialogue that will excite teens. Poets may find “You Can Write Poetry” by Jeff Mock worth a look. His book is the perfect blend of anecdote, writing samples, exercises, advice, and knowledge to help anyone write a poem.
If you are not looking to write a novel, the Library can help you as well. The classic guide to writing non-fiction is William Zinsser’s “On Writing Well.” Besides pointing out common non-fiction writing errors, he explains the fundamentals of conducting interviews and writing travel, scientific, sports, critical, and humorous articles. Dawn Sova’s “Writing Clearly” will guide you through the demands of each type of writing, including cyberspace, whether it is a persuasive essay, a business letter, or a scientific report. When you hear someone talking about writing fact and creative writing at the same time, it may sound like an oxymoron, but for poet Carolyn Forche and novelist Philip Gerard in “Writing Creative Nonfiction,” it isn’t a contradiction at all. They illustrate the creative possibilities that can be found in memoir, lyric or personal essay, plotted narrative, biography, meditation, and nature writing.
The Library is always looking for ways to help writers.
The Library offers writers the chance to take any of dozens of online writing courses free through Universal Class. Learn creative writing. Storytellers can learn to write novels, poetry, humor and for children. There are even special classes for genre writers, such as mystery, historical, and romance. There is even a special one for writing paranormal romance! Non-fiction writers will find free online classes for essay, memoire, and travel writing. ll you need is a library card and access to the Library website at www.darlington-lib.org to get started.
The Library is an ideal place for book discussions and signings by authors with its four locations, Darlington, Hartsville, Lamar, and Society Hill. The Library recently hosted a book signing for author Candace Jones’ new book, “For Such a Time as This: Being the Woman God Called You to Be.” In July, author James Scott visited to discuss his book, “Target Tokyo,” the story of the World War II’s Doolittle Raid and Darlingtonian Billy Farrow’s part in the raid. The Hartsville Branch hosted Beverly Spears’ talk on her book, “Unsolved,” the story of a 1950s murder in Darlington County. If you are an author or know an author, please let us know and we will work with you to arrange a book discussion or signing.
Looking into the future, the Library will offer a series of writing workshops beginning this fall. The Library has joined with several other public libraries in the state to offer a series of five writing workshops. These “South Carolina New Writers’” workshops will cover the writing process, editing, formatting, finding a market, and traditional or electronic publishing. The South Carolina State Library is offering writers in the state the opportunity to publish their works as e-books free of charge for all to read at no cost. In light of the South Carolina Book Festival’s decision to discontinue its annual event in Columbia to support local festivals, we just might end our series of workshops with a Pee Dee Region Book Festival next year.
The written word and those who craft them into works of art are important to us at the Darlington County Library System. The Library wants to become a place where aspiring and seasoned writers can come to hone their craft and get their works read.