Thursday, January 19, 2006

Literarily Speaking

For those of you who have tried any one of these or for those of you who think you may some day try (or even just anyone who reads - which opens it up to everyone), which type of fictional story/writing do you think is or would be the most difficult to write well:

1) Novel
2) Novella
3) Short stories (myths/fables/etc. included)
4) Play
5) Screen play
6) Poetry
7) Other (please name)

For me, poetry is the hardest to write well. Of course, I've never tried a screen play, and any of the plays I wrote were all for classes growing up. Still, plays were easier than poetry for me.

Remember, not just to write and finish but to write WELL. You can just answer with the type (or even with a number 1-6, for if it's 7, then you need to tell us which unlisted type), or as always here in The Realm, you can expound. Also, if it makes a difference in the age you're writing for, let us know that, too.


Brett said...

I have no idea. Poetry? Why does anyone even bother anymore? My own thought is that most of the great poets - from antiquity, and certainly among the Romantics - would be trying to front rock and roll bands today. This is not to say that Bono or Dylan or even the great Madonna are writing poetry with their lyrics. But I suspect that Byron would be fronting a left of center Britpop act and Whitman would be working the coffee house circuit with an acoustic guitar and harmonica.

I've seen several writers that work in a number of different styles (from mystery genre ace Lawrence Block to master fantasist Neil Gaiman to short-form genius TC Boyle) comment on the difficulty of writing good short fiction. The three mentioned above write VERY good short fiction.

Rich said...

On poetry, regardless of whether people should bother anymore, there are still poets around. I like it when I think it's good. I really like it.

Humorous rhetoric on Byron and Whitman -- you score for that.

That's a good point on short fiction. I agree that it's not easy to do well. [Of course, nothing's easy to do well, don't get me wrong.] Even the guys you mention -- well, I don't know about Block's short works but I've read some of the other two -- have some hit and miss stuff in their short fiction. And the fiction you're talking about is adult short fiction. Kid's short fiction -- and I may get myself in trouble saying this as we write for the juvenile and young adult markets -- may be a little (but if so only slightly) easier to pull off, but I think if it's going to be outstanding, you've got to have talent and you've got to work your barebottom off.

Off the top of my head, one of my favorite children's fiction short stories is the recently deceased Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree. What a great short work of fiction for kids, and adults love the story as well. It brings a tear to the eye every read. But Silverstein had talent, and he worked, too.

And, you'd have to admit that a lot of people have enjoyed his poetry as well ;)

Anonymous said...

novels seem intimidating, mostly because i can barely get through just a read of something more than 150 pages without drifting apart..writing something like that on my own would be a huge stretch, with a lot of empty pages.

plays would come directly following or even on par with a novel. there's a huge difference between narration and dialogue..and convincing dialogue is a huge challenge, particularly with multiple character development. it seems more difficult to present a character through their own words rather than by strange as that may seem. i'm sure some have an opposing opinion on that.

screenplays are really just an extension of a play, through relying more on flash and props. Celtx is a great and free screenplay software that aids tremendously with format for those who find the medium prohibitive.

Poetry..there's probably a ton of really horrible stuff and just a pinch of quality in any batch. In the end it comes down to inspiration..some have, others hope, and many fake it.

Rich said...


That's a good point about plays. When all you have to develop the character is the dialogue, that presents quite a challenge. And not only do you lose description, but you also lose character thought that can be portrayed in novels (especially first person, character-driven stories) and short stories but not so much in plays.

Poetry: Picking out the gems, though, is part of the fun. As far as writing it, I'd have to include myself as a faker.

codepoke said...

Yeah, poetry seems like a killer. In my childish experience, plays are the easiest.

codepoke said...

When I read a truly excellent poem, it moves like nothing else in writing. It draws on feelings and references to make me feel things it doesn't even say. When it does this within the confines of rhyme and meter, then it just seems super-human to me.

My favorite is the Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock. He kills me with his descriptions of people and things that really all conspire to say that Al will never have the courage to live. Wow.