We live in a world where things:
- Appear, become trendy and disappear in a matter of days, sometimes even hours.
- Everything is produced to please the masses.
- Everything needs to be in a desired shape and form.
- Everything has a book for dummies.
Two questions arise from this:
- Is it still possible to produce a true piece of art?
- Should we follow a step by step guide?
What is an art?
- Art serves the recipient.
- Art is a unique product of a human being that moves other human beings on an emotional level.
- It spreads ideas, gives insights into culture and history.
- It makes people question the world, challenges the status quo, presents our greatest desires and fears.
- Art is unique.
- A painting of Starry Night by Van Gogh is a piece of art, but a printed image of the same painting is merely a copy.
- The movie – The Godfather, starring Marlon Brando and Al Pacino is a piece of art but its Italian, dubbed version is merely a mirror image of it.
So, can we produce something as unique an artistic as The Godfather? Does the world want it at all, or people just want quick entertainment, instant dopamine fix before moving to another thing?
I honestly believe that there are still people who appreciate the real art, but you won’t find them where everybody else goes. They are on the edges. They are unique and the most challenging part is reaching them.
And yes, we need art more than ever.
Does speed production influences quality
As already mentioned, we live in a fast world. Some of today’s writers publish up to ten novels per year? Before the era of KDP, an author, no matter how successful, would have to wait in line for her novel to be published. The novel will have to be double checked, edited, promoted and then sold.
Nowadays, all you have to do is click one button and your novel is published. You don’t even need to have an editor or a cover designer and every decision depends on you.
There some authors who are able to create quickly and who can benefit from this, the others might have to think twice before copying this model because this approach has its dark side; it encouraged some writers to overproduce and therefore write some pretty suspicious quality fiction.
Tolkien needed 16 years to finish The Lord of the Rings. George R. R. Martin needed 5 years for Game of Thrones, and Margaret Michel needed 10 years for Gone With the Wind.
They are all remarkable works of art, although they are not my favorite I cannot deny their quality.
If you want to check how long did it take for some other famous novels to be finished, you can check this website.
On that very same list, you can find some novels which were written in a very short period of time, some even less than a week, but my favorites from that list took more than 2 years – The Great Gatsby and To Kill a Mocking Bird.
What does it say?
In most of the cases, it takes time to create a true piece of art.
Don’t get me wrong, I know that a novel can be written in a very short period, of time but it usually happens after a writer experiences something extraordinary, like war or unhappy childhood.
Sometimes, a writer can type fast when she has a lot of experience and has been preserving a story inside herself for a long time (war and unhappy childhood are also applicable there).
There is a little, if any chance, that you have been holding your vampire or mermaid fantasy or whatever, for ages and now it just burst from you. Am I right?
We are all familiar with the golden ratio or the three-act structure and we know that art comes in some sort of form. Even the best fiction in history came in very strict form – take for example any of Shakespeare’s work, or Moby Dick, or Hemingway’s – The Old Man and the Sea.
The form is undeniable and it should be distinguished from the formulaic work.
- Form means it should have this shape – it needs to have the beginning, the middle and the end
- Formulaic means it should look exactly like this – if you want to write a YA romance, switch Romeo with Vampire and Juliet with Werewolf and change nothing else.
Some writers create without thinking much about form; it comes naturally to them, and that is usually a matter of talent combined with a great reading and writing experience; especially reading. Take Stephen King for example.
Others, like myself, need to create the form deliberately.
The issue here is how to create something that’s not artificial, that doesn’t feel like coming from the mold, but still has a form.
It’s difficult. It feels like walking on a thin line above the abyss, but in order to create a great piece of art, you need to get rid of fear and walk that line step by step.
The good thing here is that if you actually fall, you can do it again.
There isn’t a book for dummies
Unfortunately, I cannot provide you with the step by step guide because I think there is no such thing; you need to figure it out yourself and that takes time and practice.
The most important thing here is not to confuse the form with a step by step method. Someone can teach you what should your novel look like, what form should it have, but nobody can exactly teach you how to make it.
You can get some guidance on how to outline a novel or what should you pay attention to while creating a character, but there is no effective assembly process, like in a car production. Speaking of which, a car also needs to have a form (4 wheels, 3-5 doors, a certain amount of windows…)