By yours truly, just off the press:
This uber-popular “Masterpiece Theater” series, now in its third season, features some of the best dramatic writing in the world. It comes from the brain of Julian Fellowes, author of Gosford Park, The Young Victoria, The Tourist and scads of other film and TV productions. Fellowes’ novel includes “Snobs” and “Past Imperfect.”
Watch the Downton story and you’ll never forget what it means to show as opposed to tell in fiction and theater. The characters reveal themselves in the most wonderful ways — a lifted eyebrow, veiled compliment, sarcastic turn of phrase, snappy opinion, sudden movement of the hands, obsequious bow — but it is their words that reveal them precisely. Their choice, pronunciation, arrangement, intent.
One of the fabulous one-liners from The Dowager Countess of Grantham (Maggie Smith) is the epitome of how this revelation takes place. Watch it unfold at the following website: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhfpBW-nUWk
CREATIVITY, LIKE PLATO’S BEAUTY, IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER and what he or she understands the term to mean. Is one painter any more creative than another simply because he or she discovers something in the act of painting that is different from or better (at least in the minds of critics) than others?
In my view, everyone is creative but not necessarily in the way most professional communicators mean. To be creative in public relations, marketing or advertising, you need to read about and study ideas and concepts for developing creative programs or messages. Maybe take a full-blown course on the subject.
Most important, to be truly creative you have to practice, practice, practice, because the creativity I’m addressing here is generally learned from experience and having a deep understanding of the profession you’re in, what makes it tick, what makes it work.
Typically, the requisite practice entails tapping your imagination by applying well-known tools and techniques backed up by a lot of knowledge about what worked well in the past that has implications and application for today.
Here are a few obvious tools and techniques, all of which have detailed explanations on the Internet: 1) brainstorming; 2) six thinking hats; 3) blue ocean strategy; 4) mind maps; 5) fishbone diagrams; 6) reversal technique; 7) nominal groups; 8) brain writing; 9) day dreaming; 10) lateral thinking; 11) perceptual maps; and 12) visualization. To find links to these and scores of other creative techniques, visit: http://www.mycoted.com/Category:Creativity_Techniques.
Two writers on creativity who are easy to read and who taught me a lot are Edward de Bono and Tony Buzan. Read at least one in the months ahead. In the meantime, replace “beauty” with “creativity” in the following statement from Plato’s Synposium and think about the inherent wisdom.
“Remember how in that communion only, beholding beauty [CREATIVITY] with the eye of the mind, he will be enabled to bring forth, not images of beauty [CREATIVITY], but realities (for he has hold not of an image but of a reality), and bringing forth and nourishing true virtue to become the friend of God and be immortal, if mortal man may.”
This is the quote that was incorrectly transformed way back when into the more famous, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
Read also marketing guru Ted Levitt’s “Creativity is not enough.” You can find it in his books or buy a copy for a few bucks from the Harvard Business Review.
It’s a classic that will disabuse you of many of your notions regarding creativity’s value in a professional or business setting.
If you’re an aspiring writer, regardless of genre, Nobel Laureate William Faulkner has some stern advice for you:
“Read, read, read. Read everything—trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it is good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out the window.”
You’ll find the quote all over the Internet, but this may be the first time you’ll find it with a reference to the source. To wit:
Classroom statement in 1947 at U. of Mississippi, taken from Lion in the Garden: Interviews with William Faulkner, 1926-1962, U. of Nebraska Press (Nov. 1, 1980}, edited by James B. Meriwether and Michael Millgate.
I’m thankful today that somewhere in my early years I found words and they found me, and that scores of people helped me learn to write better as a result. Happy Thanksgiving to writers everywhere.
Merriam Webster:“Metaphor is “a figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them (as in drowning in money).”
“The greatest thing by far is to have a command of metaphor. This alone cannot be imparted by another; it is the mark of genius, for to make good metaphors implies an eye for resemblance.” —Poetics (330 BC).
“Poetry begins in trivial metaphors, pretty metaphors, ‘grace’ metaphors, and goes on to the profoundest thinking that we have. Poetry provides the one permissible way of saying one thing and meaning another. People say, ‘Why don’t you say what you mean?’ We never do that, do we, being all of us too much poets. We like to talk in parables and in hints and in indirections—whether from diffidence or some other instinct.
“I have wanted in late years to go further and further in making metaphor the whole of thinking. I find some one now and then to agree with me that all thinking, except mathematical thinking, is metaphorical, or all thinking except scientific thinking. The mathematical might be difficult for me to bring in, but the scientific is easy enough.” — Education by Poetry, Amherst Graduates’ Quarterly, Feb. 1931
Example:“You see, menudo is our chicken soup for the body and soul, our metaphor for bread-and-butter issues.” —Joe Rodriguez, San Jose Mercury News, May 20, 2003.
My favorite writing site, Copyblogger, makes it real:http://www.copyblogger.com/become-a-master-of-metaphor-and-multiply-your-blogging-effectiveness/
Lots of employers say college students and graduates don’t write well. Do you think it’s true? Take this national survey and give your two cents. https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/T2D29VC
Give me you thoughts. I don’t think so. Prove me wrong or misguided or soft. I’m listening and I will publish the results of what I’m told.
Readers, unite—and enjoy these quotes about the importance of reading to writers. Collected by Laura Brockway and published in today’s Ragan Report.
Most good writers are voracious readers.
Like musicians who listen to music to analyze it, writers read to analyze. We also read to find inspiration. Whether it’s from the classics, modern fiction, comic books, recipe books, tweets, or New Yorker articles, we can always take away something to incorporate into our writing.
One of the secrets to good writing is simply reading. Below are some inspirational quotes about books and reading, including a few by other writers.
1. “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”
— George R.R. Martin
2. “Show me the books you read, and I’ll show you who you are.” — Unknown
3. “If you cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use reading it at all.”
— Oscar Wilde
4. “For all I know, writing comes out of a superior devotion to reading.” — Eudora Welty
5. “These are not books, lumps of lifeless paper, but minds alive on the shelves.” — Gilbert Highet
6. “We don’t need lists of rights and wrongs, tables of dos and don’ts; we need books, time, and silence. Thou shalt not is soon forgotten, but Once upon a time lasts forever.” — Philip Pullman
7. “The walls of books around him, dense with the past, formed a kind of insulation against the present world and its disasters.” — Ross McDonald
8. “Never judge a book by its movie.” — Unknown
9. “A man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.”
— Mark Twain
10. “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
— Stephen King
11. “Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” ― Charles William Eliot
12. “You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.”
― James Baldwin
Laura Hale Brockway is a medical writer and editor from Austin, Texas. She is also the author of the writing/editing/random thoughts blog, impertinentremarks.com.
Among the 20 finalists are five Pulitzer Prize winners, two recipients of MacArthur ”Genius” grants, one previous National Book Award Winner, three previous National Book Award Finalists, and a recipient of the National Book Foundation’s Literarian Award, one of the Foundation’s two lifetime achievement awards. In addition, six of the twenty books were published by small, independent, or university presses. Names and works are noted in the following post: