World, Writing, Wealth discussion

66 views
All Things Writing & Publishing > What about the talent?

Comments Showing 1-31 of 31 (31 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13518 comments We discuss here different aspects of writing craft and biz: how to market, which route is better, trad or sp, and many more. The ultimate success depends on at least a few factors: quality, marketing, luck. Talking about quality it, in its turn, is a function of a professional presentation and editing and, of course, of a viable and well-written content. Many authors here and elsewhere, have no formal writing- connected education and it's not necessarily required. Some lived their lives doing other things, being nurses, pilots, lawyers, gangsters, law enforcement officers, billionaires and so on, either writing something down on an aside or all of sudden deciding that they are ripe to write a book.
In the discussions here, some argued that good stuff should find its way to the top on its own, that to successfully market anything you need to first have a good, if not superb, product. Among all the necessary components which role, pivotal or secondary, does the writing talent play in your opinion? And what demonstrates a talent: writing style, ease of delivery of thoughts and images, something else?


Tara Woods Turner | 2063 comments Talent is subjective, as we all know. Of course technical merit is objective but that is not what makes a book great. Connecting with readers on an emotional or visceral level is what makes a book successful and that is something that seldom falls within quantifiable metrics. When we speak of luck we are not talking about talent but rather, exposure and discoverability. There are so many books that would prove to be successful with readers but they never see the light of day.


T. K. Elliott (Tiffany) (t_k_elliott) My opinion...

If your marketing isn't effective, it doesn't matter how brilliant your book is: nobody will ever see it, because they won't be able to find it.

On the other hand, if your book is awful but your marketing is excellent, people will find it and they will give it bad reviews, and then it will die.

So you need excellent marketing and an excellent product.

As to talent...

I think it operates as a short-cut. You can learn to write well, if you work hard enough at it, but it will come more quickly if you have a gift for it.

My husband does full-contact armoured combat. He's pretty good. I, on the other hand, suck at it. I'm not very co-ordinated, so if I wanted to carry on, I knew that I would have to practice twice as much as everyone else just to reach the dizzy heights of adequate. But I could have done it, if I'd been willing to put the work in.

Shooting, it's the other way around. I'm a better shot than he is: he could probably get as good as me, but he'd need a lot more lessons and a lot more practice.

As to what talent is... I think people differ. Some have the talent for having the idea; others for plot, others for characters, others for the actual selection of words to put on paper. I think you would be very lucky indeed to have a talent for all of those!

And if you don't have the talent, you can imitate it by putting in the work: read, and analyse, to pull apart exactly why some things work and some do not.

I'm writing a short story at the moment, and the process of doing that is teaching me a lot about how stories work. You just don't have the luxury of lots of words, so you have to make sure everything works exactly right. And to do that, you have to figure out what "exactly right" looks like!


message 4: by M.L. (new)

M.L. Perseverance is key and consistency.


Tara Woods Turner | 2063 comments Perseverance and consistency work in your favor if you have talent. Otherwise you are persevering to consistently put an unwanted product out for the public to ignore, no? Exposure is really the most important because it will let you know if you write well enough to make people want to buy your books.


message 6: by Mehreen (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1911 comments Are awards the ultimate measure of talent? What else?


Tara Woods Turner | 2063 comments Sales are the ultimate measure of talent. Awards tend to honor skill although some measure of talent is prerequisite.


message 8: by Mehreen (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1911 comments best sellers are not always the most awarded books.


Tara Woods Turner | 2063 comments True, and that is a good thing as awards try to measure skill. Bestsellers earn their distinction at the juncture of talent and exposure. Books that earn awards earn their distinction at the juncture of skill and exposure. This is why Fifty Shades of Gray is a best seller and Life of Pi wins awards.


message 10: by Alex (new)

Alex (asato) Tara wrote: "Talent is subjective...
i basically agree.

T.K. Elliot wrote: "As to talent... I think it operates as a short-cut"
i like that explanation. no matter how we learned it, now we can do it more efficiently than most others.

just to add, there is no inborn genetic talent in creative writing like in sports or music.

how to measure talent? i don't think it's a productive line of inquiry to attempt to directly measure creative writing talent b/c as T.K. said there are many components of creative writing talent; also, it is more of efficiency of process rather than the result.

a best seller and awards are rather the subjective valuation--by a group of people--of a story as an end result--not the process.


message 11: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13518 comments T. K. Elliott wrote: "My husband does full-contact armoured combat. He's pretty good. I, on the other hand, suck at it. I'm not very co-ordinated, so if I wanted to carry on, I knew that I would have to practice twice as much as everyone else just to reach the dizzy heights of adequate. But I could have done it, if I'd been willing to put the work in.

Shooting, it's the other way around. I'm a better shot than he is: he could probably get as good as me, but he'd need a lot more lessons and a lot more practice..."


Wow, you are quite a dangerous couple -:)

T. K. Elliott wrote: "Some have the talent for having the idea; others for plot, others for characters, others for the actual selection of words to put on paper. I think you would be very lucky indeed to have a talent for all of those! ..."

So very true... I don't need to be objective to understand that my writing style will never come close to the elegance of Tolstoy, nor to detalization of Grisham.. I hope though I bring interesting enough content and ideas to compensate for a less beautiful language. I can further hope that gangsta rap is not necessarily inferior to Beethoven's sonatas -:)


message 12: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13518 comments T. K. Elliott wrote: "As to talent...

I think it operates as a short-cut. ..."


Cool metaphor


Tara Woods Turner | 2063 comments But we could say that the process only matters to writing professionals while the end result is what matters most to readers. Awards are how the industry measures itself while sales is how readers measure the worth of a writer. It is the difference between the Grammy's and the Billboard Awards, or the difference between the Oscars and the People's Choice Awards. Both are valid but measure different things.

I would argue that the ability to tell a good tale can be as natural to some as the ability to run and jump.


message 14: by Mehreen (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1911 comments Tara said: I would argue that the ability to tell a good tale can be as natural to some as the ability to run and jump.

I don't see a lot of them being awarded for their skill.


Tara Woods Turner | 2063 comments They may lack exposure, they may have talent but no skill or they may be good at what they do but not quite excellent at it etc. the criteria for skill is determinby industryed pros, with whom we may disagree. In a perfect world the cream would rise to the top but this will never be the case.


message 16: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13518 comments Wonder what more recently joining members think about the talent?


message 17: by Michael (last edited Dec 06, 2016 06:05PM) (new)

Michael McLellan I think some people are simply born great story tellers. This I would call a talent. Some people are extremely adept at the music of language. I'd call this a talent as well. Some lucky folks are born with both. The rest of writing, imo, comes down to skill, which can be learned by most anyone, given time and practice.
As far as financial/commercial success. Talent doesn't guarantee a thing.
My two cents.


message 18: by Mehreen (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1911 comments Talent is innate. It's never learn't.


message 19: by Bernard (new)

Bernard Boley (bernard_boley) | 126 comments Mehreen wrote: "Talent is innate. It's never learn't."

Perhaps, but it often takes years to learn how to let it go out and mature.


message 20: by Mehreen (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1911 comments Bernard wrote: "Mehreen wrote: "Talent is innate. It's never learn't."

Perhaps, but it often takes years to learn how to let it go out and mature."


A gifted person knows his/her talent and hones it. However, I do believe that every person is gifted one way or the other latent in them.


message 21: by Bernard (new)

Bernard Boley (bernard_boley) | 126 comments Mehreen wrote: "Bernard wrote: "Mehreen wrote: "Talent is innate. It's never learn't."

Perhaps, but it often takes years to learn how to let it go out and mature."

A gifted person knows his/her talent and hones ..."


I never heard of a writer who suddenly became aware of his innate talent when he began to write at a very young age. I however met many good authors who simply said they had this unexplainable need to write, write, write.... Being talented is something others will say about an creator should he be a painter, a sculptor or a writer. Most of them will admit having a different way of doing things, but they will also say it still needs to be improved.


message 22: by Mehreen (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1911 comments Bernard wrote: "Mehreen wrote: "Bernard wrote: "Mehreen wrote: "Talent is innate. It's never learn't."

Perhaps, but it often takes years to learn how to let it go out and mature."

A gifted person knows his/her t..."


That's why I used the word "hone".


message 23: by Mike (last edited Dec 11, 2016 07:57AM) (new)

Mike | 181 comments I would say that if your parents like to read and write, and if they give you books and read to you as a kid, you have a step up on the competition. Of course, it's not yet your competition, because you're too young to have that kind of ambition, or to decide whether you'd rather be a tennis player or politician. It also helps to have an unhappy and isolated childhood, the better to put a lifelong emphasis on the importance of your delusional fantasy world.

Personally, I don't see awards or sales as arbiters of talent. I'm only vaguely aware that there are such things as book awards. As Michael said in post #17, talent, honed or otherwise, doesn't guarantee a thing, in terms of recognition, accolades or $.

If you're predisposed (through genetics, upbringing or the urging of a fellow alienated schoolmate) to write, I'd say it's a mistake to rely too much on what you consider to be your natural talent. As others have said, it's something that needs to be developed. It may exist, but if you don't push yourself, it'll atrophy. If you don't seek out life experience and spend time around people who aren't writers, you may write beautiful prose about nothing relevant. Generally speaking, you might have strength in one area over others- so I would say you want to identify the places where you're weak, and work to improve them.


message 24: by Michael (last edited Dec 11, 2016 09:31AM) (new)

Michael McLellan Mike wrote: "...it may exist, but if you don't push yourself, it'll atrophy."

Well said.


message 25: by P.J. (last edited Dec 12, 2016 01:24PM) (new)

P.J. Paulson | 94 comments A lot of what Mike says makes sense to me.

Writing talent is probably partly innate and partly learned, whether we're talking about fiction, non-fiction, poetry....

But then, there's artistic talent, and then there's talent in marketing, or talent in developing one's skill to pander to the baser instincts of people who simply want to be entertained.

Recently I've been reading books by people I've met on Goodreads - interesting, well-written books by authors who tell me they haven't yet found their audience. In my mind, these people have artistic and technical writing talent. They've put their heart and soul into their books, and have created something positive they've put out into the world, yet it hasn't been found.


message 26: by Mehreen (last edited Dec 11, 2016 02:15PM) (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1911 comments Mike wrote: "I would say that if your parents like to read and write, and if they give you books and read to you as a kid, you have a step up on the competition. Of course, it's not yet your competition, becaus..."

Well said. Awards, sales are not indicators of talent. That's superb marketing. Talent is when a book is read and the reader likes it. The author will be deemed as talented to that particular reader. However, it maybe subjective.


message 27: by Joanna (new)

Joanna Elm | 145 comments A talent for storytelling is important, but so is your writing skill. Writing is often referred to as a "craft " which suggests that since it is a craft there are certain courses/routes to take to improve your craft.
On this site, there are so many tips and so much advice as to effective marketing, but I hardly ever read any tips or advice as to how to improve one's writing skills. What do the authors in this discussion group do to improve their writing?


message 28: by Michael (new)

Michael McLellan Read, read, and read some more:)


message 29: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13518 comments Is talent required to write a book? And is it natural or acquired?


message 30: by Michel (new)

Michel Poulin Talent is required to write a GOOD book. Anybody can write a bad or mediocre book ('Fifty Shades of Grey' comes to mind) but you need to be a good storyteller to write a book that will capture the attention of readers. If you write fiction, then imagination becomes a crucial factor in my opinion, as much as storytelling. Imagine someone with little or no imagination who tries to write a science-fiction or fantasy novel!


message 31: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 5360 comments I don't think talent (and that includes imagination) can be acquired. But if one has talent, skills can be acquired and honed.


back to top