Monday, September 7, 2009

The Potency of Craft

Last Friday, I made a comment in my book review of Icefire that the content was made more concerning by how well the story was told. It was a comment I realized later might be puzzling to some.

While I’ve been focusing on how to analyze the content of a story in these Monday posts, craft also plays a critical role. I haven’t focused there, however, as most people instinctively know whether a story is well-done or not, generally speaking, even if they can’t explain what they know.

So why is craft important?

Craft is what lends the power to the story’s content. The better the craft, the longer the story will linger in the mind and the deeper it will burrow into the heart. Thus the content will have a greater impact on the receiver.

When the content is good, this is wonderful. We want principles like redemption, loyalty, forgiveness, and God’s grace to stick. But when the content promotes harmful ideology—that’s when trouble comes.

For if the story is poorly done, it will be quickly forgotten, giving the bad content less opportunity to influence. But with better writing, the content will have more opportunities to impact and change us. So when I see poor content with great craft, content problems that would be of minor concern in lesser stories become major issues because of the power lent to it by the craft.

So if you remember nothing else about craft, understand this: The better the craft, the more potent the content.

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