Applying the rules of art to writing: admire your forebears…

“… but don’t try to build a career by repeating their discoveries. Most students come to art training after a passionate engagement with established or historical art. Nothing is more thrilling than to delve deeply into the beauties of Titian, Turner, Rodin, or Cézanne or into the edgy excitement of contemporary work. But every student must remember that art is a constantly tilled field, and its job is to overcome what we know in order to examine and celebrate what we don’t yet know. What makes work of the past endlessly satisfying is the vistas it provides into a moment in history. Every artist must do the same for his or her moment.”
Excerpt from ‘101 Things to Learn in Art School’ by Kit White

Every writer must read. If you want to write crime fiction, read Sayers, Christie, James, Larsson, Rankin. If you write thrillers, read Harris, Boyd, Grisham, King, Le Carre, Fleming. But don’t stop there. Read outside your genre too. Read the classics, read genres you know nothing about. And read as a writer. Learn from the masters.

Then leave behind all that you have read, and write your own thing. Yes learn from the masters, but do not let them shackle your storytelling.

Kit White

[photo: David King]

To quote Stephen King [above, circa 1967]: “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.” [from On Writing]

Kit White


‘101 Things to Learn in Art School’ by Kit White [MIT Press] Buy now

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