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The Seven Types of Writer

There are seven types of writer.

At the top of the writing tree are master authors.

Master authors can write something of any length, in any genre. They can transport readers from almost anywhere to almost anywhere else, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. They are experts in conjuring up grand ideas and images, capturing attention, gaining commitment, structuring masterpieces, commanding respect and enchanting readers with style. Their works resonate with fulfilment and can change the world.

There are very few of them.

One step down, we encounter the professional, best-selling authors. They have perhaps taken command of one genre, become proficient at moving readers in certain ways, and have mastered the directing of attention to some degree. Perhaps their ideas are of a limited range, though they are always dealt with well within that narrow scope; they know what their readers want and unflinchingly provide it; they use workmanlike techniques to turn out well-paced and structured stories that carry readers forward; they are in control of their writing styles and have carved out a kingdom for themselves with the public. There are quite a few of these - they are the ‘famous names’ of the writing world.

Then we have the emerging writers. These have perhaps been published professionally, but haven’t sold quite so well. They may have struck upon some of the secrets of genre, and of directing readers’ attention, but this isn’t always consistent. They are still exploring what they can do for readers and how they can do it. Not quite masters of their craft, their stories are uneven and occasionally disappointing, but beneath even their lesser tales is a growing confidence in style. There are millions of these, and their number is growing.

Slightly below these are the new writers. These are the ones struggling to get published. One story after another is submitted; almost every one is rejected. Occasionally they triumph - everything comes together: their skills coalesce, they find a sympathetic publisher, they make a mark with a group of readers. But overall they lack confidence and clarity in terms of ideas; they have not isolated precise tools for gaining reader sympathy; their abilities to structure a story are largely hit and miss in practice. There are signs of unique voice coming through, but often these signs are drowned by obvious cliché and derivative patterns. They know what they want from a story; they are not too sure what readers want. The pull of Life outside a writing career is strong.

Then come the writers who hardly ever write enough to call themselves by that name. They have ideas, they make notes, perhaps even write a complete story from time to time. But their lives are largely drowned by outside factors - family and work commitments, routines, obligations - and the life of a writer is something of a dream to them.

There are two categories below them, though.

The first contains those who know that they would like to write, but who are trapped in orbit around factors in their lives which prevent them from even extracting a single word from within.

The second category is full of those who have no idea that they have a story within them at all. Strangely enough, these people often act out their unseen dramas in their outer lives.

Every writer is somewhere on this scale.

There are ways of climbing up the ladder.

Some of them are described in my book Become a Professional Author.


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