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Old 01-23-2012, 04:03 PM   #1
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 512
Current Game: Arcanum
Is Writing Dead? (An Essay a la Kreia)

[/rant and generalizations on]

Maybe this is just my cynical frustration talking and not my good sense, but every day I feel like writing is a dying (if not dead) art. Despite the record sales of hit titles like Twilight and Harry Potter, I know that fine writing is not the point of those novels. Their main objective is action, especially so that they can be made into movies. Who cares about a witty turn of phrase when an explosion or sex scene can be had far more easily?

I know there's a lot of emphasis in schools on becoming proficient in reading. At least, that's what the proponents of No Child Left Behind say, but that's not what they mean. What they actually want is for students to become proficient at reading skills that standardized tests measure. "Characterization" and "character motivation" are not examples of these skills. "Decoding phonemes" is, and also "comprehension". However, comprehension of what? There is only one right answer to any standardized-test question, and you must comprehend what that answer is (especially if all the other answers seem correct). If you don't "put down what they [the tests] tell you", as an SAT cheater phrased it, then you're sunk. Does this relate to writing at all?

Definitely. More and more, writing (at least in terms of the kind mastered by Dickens, whose bicentenary is in February) is becoming an obsolete occupation. Great books are everywhere, sure, but in (elementary and high) school, one doesn't learn how to write a great book. Writing's purpose is seen as utilitarian: to give instructions, to explain something, to relay messages. Many employers are saying they're looking for people with "good writing skills", but a coherent memo is hardly the example of "good writing" I'm looking to pen. Most memos are ignored. I know that firsthand!

Is writing pointless, even as other people wail that communication is paramount? I'm afraid to say that in this 21st century, the answer is more often "yes" than "no". Who needs, "I'm so glad to make your acquaintance!" in a handwritten letter when we already have "nice 2 mt u?" It's shorter, sweeter, and more to the point than the longer version (at least if you text a lot). The kind of literary masterpieces our forefathers read, I fear, will soon be as dead as they are. We want more from our books, but what we want is more action--another Millennium Trilogy, not another Little Dorritt.

This brings me to the point of why I work so hard on my Star Wars stories, and why there's not much action in them. I'm better at the characters, and I enjoy delving into them. Intrigue is my forte, and as long as I still feel the desire to write, I'll try to write well. It may be pointless, but it's my passion.

[/rant and generalizations off]
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