How to deal with non-writers

How to deal with non-writers

Written by WxY

During my experiences on the vast expanse that is the Internet, I’ve come across a few complaints about “non-writers”. That is to say, people who claim to be writers, and can think of extremely captivating stories, but who never sit down to actually write them. It’s curious, because I’ve never met any such people myself; but now, after years of thought, I’ve finally managed to understand them.

For now, let’s think of what a writer is supposed to do, shall we? For the purposes of this article, the job of a writer is two-fold:
One, a writer should conceive captivating stories and
Two, s/he should manage to communicate those stories in a captivating way.
And now, here is the crux of the issue: Many people are much more skilled in the first part than the second one. That is, their ability to think of a good story is much greater than their ability express it, to make the audience feel the same way about their story as they do. This is, in essence, the skill gap: the difference between what you think and what you write.

I first came across this phrase when I was browsing the Katawa Shoujo dev blog. ”None of you will ever read the real story I’ve imagined, of Rin and Hisao and all the things that happen between them, just the crude translation that I was able to vomit out onto my keyboard” said the author, and I think it’s a very succinct and accurate presentation of the issue. For a more visual representation, have a look at the difference between the image a girl thought of and what she managed to put to paper.

So, Random Internet Reader, if you ever find yourself in a discussion with someone who introduces him/herself as a writer, ask them this: “How big is your skill gap?” If they don’t know what it is, explain it to them. If they say they don’t know how big it is because they’ve never attempted the second step, have them do that right then and there. Make them write a story in 20-30 words, and see what they come up with. If they get agitated, inform them that they can’t consider themselves writers before they have at least a ballpark estimate of their skill gap.

And then, ask the same question to yourself.

WxY out.