Writing is a beautiful thing, one that incorporates elements of both art and science.
The science of writing is that most important focus we all need to have on the rules of writing and composition. Where do you use a semi-colon, for example. When should you forsake a compound sentence for two shorter sentences. Where to place commas. How to write in the active voice when it might be easier to settle for the passive voice. When to omit needless words. When to inject opinions and when not to. When to respect your reader’s imagination as opposed to explaining or describing more than necessary. You get the idea. A writer who insists upon using twenty-five-cent words when a ten-cent-word is there for the taking may still need to study the science of writing a bit more thoroughly. In fact, every writer should always be open to the ever-evolving science of writing no matter how successful one might be. We can always improve.
The good news is this: everyone can “learn” the science of writing.
The art of writing can be more difficult. The art of writing is about storytelling. It’s about drawing the reader into the ebb and flow of your message whether you’re crafting a novel or a business book, a biography or a book of inspiration. The art of writing is about developing characters that the reader becomes fully invested in. The art of writing is about “showing” rather than “telling” and doing so in such a way that a reader feels every emotion and finds their five senses tantalized at every turn.
You’ve heard people say that verbs and nouns are superior in every way to adverbs and adjectives, which is hard to dispute. However, this is one of those areas where the science of writing and art of writing converge. You have to be conscious of this rule of thumb – the science – while choosing wisely the verbs and nouns that move your story or build your characters – the art.
So, the two are not mutually exclusive. In fact, it’s hard to have one without the other. You can’t tell a great story if you’re switching tenses or going from 1st person to 3rd in the same paragraph.
To be a good writer, you have to understand the science of writing. To be a great writer, you have to become an artist.