Sunday, 20 October 2013

Writing - 10 things we can learn from Shakespeare




1. “Good writers borrow. … Great writers steal.”

Most of Shakespeare’s stories originated in other source material. Shakespeare wrote his works in his own way, with his unique signature.

2. Remember: Shakespeare never went to Italy.

Without delving into the Shakespearean authorship question, how could the son of a glove maker evoke settings, fields and time period he couldn’t have ever experienced? “By reading. copiously and diligently. Writers should never let their research trump their tales. Shakespeare gives you as much as you need to tell the story, and that’s all.

3. “Get right to it.”

Shakespeare doesn’t waste time getting things moving. Any book should do the same.

4. Story is character.

In the bard’s world, the props and costumes are kept to a minimum. The plays can be performed on a bare stage. It’s all about the interaction between character and how the characters speak. Likewise, from a story perspective a thriller shouldn’t be about explosions and car chases, but character.

5. Begin scenes late and end them early.

Just like the screenwriting maxim.

6. All scenes must have external and internal conflict.

It’s not enough for the door to be locked. The character has to have a reason to not want to open it.

7. Pace isn’t speed.

Don’t be afraid to slow down to focus between action and event. People tend to talk about the need for books to go fast. What sets Shakespeare apart is that he allowed his characters to register the events that happened to them—“for the emotional and spiritual consequences of things to land.”

8. “Bad things happen to good people. Audiences expect poetic justice.”

Beyond Shakespeare’s works, George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series to further illustrate this point. Martin gets his readers to love his characters, and then he kills those characters off. The result: You’re always in fear. It creates a particular kind of suspense and a particular kind of tension.

9. The dialogue says it all.

We tend to think of Shakespeare as a great philosopher, spouting off wisdoms—but that’s not the case. Every word in Shakespeare is dialogue. It comes from character. … We do not know what Shakespeare thought about anything, and that’s what makes him good.

10. Shakespeare was all about output.

You want to learn from Shakespeare? Write a ton of stuff. On average Shakespeare released the great works of literature at a rate of about two plays a year for two decades.

It's amazing how little things have changed in the last 500 years. How close to these points are you with your writing?



Some sage advice from a study of the bard in particular about travelling to collect experiences. Hardly necessary these days with Google and Google Earth. Take for instance the seaside holiday park above found in Japan. The colours are amazing and hardly seem of the natural earth.


God Bless

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