The Eight Crafts of Writing

Jane was an aspiring writer, who, like everyone else before her, parachuted fearlessly into the writing jungle. And, like everybody else, she got hung up on a tree with her parachute. That tree was the sub craft How to Write in Limited POV.

Looking around, she notices a hundred more trees on which other aspiring writers are dangling. She cuts the parachute lines, drops to the ground, makes a somersault forward, and jumps to her feet.

Around her, writers of all ages are cutting paths through the thicket.

“Help?” she calls out.

Well-meant answers arrive from all directions.

”Create an interesting character and give her a great goal.”

“Write what you want to read.”

“Create a sense of wonder.”

“The more conflict, the better.”

“Don’t write to get published, grab the reader.”

“Be captivating. Or memorable.”

“Keep the reader turning pages.”

“Be unpredictable and keep the reader curious.”

Jane scans the area. She can’t see more than ten meters into the thicket. How she wishes she had a map and a navigation system.

Five years later, Jane is still cutting her way through the writing wilderness. She has climbed eighty-one writing skill trees, crossed the suspense valley, ascended the romance mountain, and walked the Hero’s Journey track, but the storytelling jungle remains a tangle. How she wishes she had a map and a navigation system.

A Structured Overview of the Writing Craft(s)

Most books about writing specialize in one, two, or three crafts, but none focuses on the overview (yep, that’s a paradox). Until now. The map is finally here: The Eight Crafts of Writing. The Eight Crafts of Writing is useful for aspiring writers and writers who are a few years into their writing journey but got lost in the weeds – as it happened to the author.

New Writing Territories

Besides providing a structured overview of the eight writing crafts, The Eight Crafts of Writing explores new writing territories, for example:

  • The psychology of storytelling
  • The adversity cycle and origin of story outline/structure
  • The two types of stories – protagonistic and antagonistic
  • Story engagers and how they relate to the eight crafts
  • The eight genres and how they relate to the eight writing crafts
  • A new perspective on the writer’s block, who is actually a shapeshifter

Writing and Enlightenment

Seven years ago, I ventured into fiction writing because I felt it had an advantage over non-fiction. The first thing fiction writers learn, is the advice Show, don’t tell. Non-fiction is telling and fiction is showing.

Stories have the power to take people to exceptional states of mind, rather than telling about it. I believe that’s one reason why most ancient spiritual scriptures were written in story form.

When I wrote The Eight Crafts of Writing, I realized that writing and enlightenment have interesting parallels. We are immortal souls having planetary experience. The soul extracts wisdom and understanding and empathy from experiences and takes those with it. Stories are virtual experiences from which we can extract wisdom, understanding, and empathy as well.

While the higher self guides us from within, karma forces our evolution from outside – by taking us into challenging situations. Stories are inspiring struggles with adversity that can inspire us to face adversity in real life. And they can teach us a thing or two – in the form of prescriptive and cautionary tales.

Last but not least, one could make the case that crafting empathy is the supreme goal of art. No empathy, no evolution of consciousness – neither personal nor collective. Social progress is the history of men and women creating novel empathy for neglected people and social groups. Leo Tolstoy accomplished this extraordinary feat with Anna Karenina – mind he was a man. Les Miserables drew attention to the poor and sick, and Uncle Tom’s Cabin uncovered the intolerable life of African American slaves. All Quiet On the Western Front gives readers a true sense of the dread of war. Memoirs of a Geisha reveals the good and bad times of female Japanese entertainers, and Changeling allows us to feel with women suffering from cryptic social abuse. The Elephant Man reveals what it is like to be a kind soul in a freakish body. Many stories that promoted novel empathy became classics.