Sunday, October 15, 2006

Tools vs. Instructions

A comment in the rasfc thread really struck a chord with me given the discussion here re: the usual rules vs guidelines, etc.

She said she doesn't like instructions because they tell you what to do and in what order, whereas she loves tools because you can do anything with them in any order you want. Now, this rasfc discussion has been quite contrary, as things usually get there, as people come to it from different approaches and don't quite understand what the other person is doing, means, etc. This person likes having names for her tools so she can find them again later, while someone else says she doesn't need to know the names of things, she just uses what works and maybe next time, something else will work as well, anyway. And of course, there's disagreement as to whether or not that description fits writing tools. I kind of like the distinction, because I do believe you can solve a writing problem in more than one way. For some, it might be to outline; for another, it might be to make lists of plot points; and to someone else, it might be to write each possibility out to see which works better. All three are valid, IMO. The right one is the one that works for a given writer, and I would bet that some writers would find 2 or perhaps all 3 work for them, while another writer might have one work, or might have to go find a fourth way.

Again, the thread is here and starts with the exercises Patricia Wrede posted to help one person with a particular problem. It then got into a side topic of topic sentences to open paragraphs. The tools aspect comes in in the last day or so. One thing I love about rasfc is all the ideas and approaches I read about there.

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