Cornerstones Competition: We have a Winner

Helen Corner contacted me today with news of the winner of the competition on this blog,
which asked:

What do you think the four cornerstones of good writing are?

So I hand you over to Helen:

rdb is our winner

We loved the way he 'showed' us the four cornerstones and didn't 'tell' us. It made us think!
There are no absolute four cornerstones to good writing and I always come back to the basics. Your story must entertain and allow the reader to explore beyond what they experience in every day life: be it in a factual or emotional way. Everything that comes before that: writing a damn good story, having a bit of luck, determination and timing; knowing how to self-edit and revise; professionally presenting it to agents or publishers (if you go down the traditional publishing route) and then seeing your book through to the end product and on the shelves; promoting your first book; writing your next book (if you haven't already) keeping your spirits high because there will be times when you're pulling your hair out and having no self-belief. I could go on. But most of all, the essential cornerstone to good writing is that initial burst of inspiration. Don't ever cut that out or paste over it (this is where the surgeon's self-editing scalpel comes in, as opposed to a shovel!) as that is the essence to a dazzling book and what sets it apart from other books and truly touches the reader.

And Nick Morgan came a close second because he echoed what we do here and what we strongly believe in.

Thanks Helen!

Well done rdb and Nick Morgan.

rdb can you contact me or Helen, as we need your details to send you the prize of Cornerstone's book.

Here is rdb's winning entry:

I doubt the following could ever be held up as the four cornerstones of writing, but they mean something to me anyway…

1) Digging deep:
As a boy, Charles Darwin was mad about beetle-collecting. The excitement of finding new kinds was an intense experience and he held onto that emotional memory all his life. As an old man he wrote to a friend: ‘whenever I hear of the capture of rare beetles I feel like an old war horse at the sound of a trumpet’.

I feel if I can touch something with my writing that echoes far back into my childhood then I am dealing with powerful emotions that might resonate with readers.

2) Analysis:
Nobel prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman argued with artistic friends over flowers. They claimed he could never appreciate their true beauty because he wouldn’t just look; he had to analyse and reduce them to patterns of electrons. He retorted that the more he understood what made a flower, the more complex and beautiful he found it.
The more I understand how others put their books together, the more complex and beautiful I find the craft of writing. I hope that deepening understanding might improve my own work.

3) Gaps:
Beethoven said his music was all about the gaps between the notes. They were food for the listener’s expectations and emotions.
I believe I feed off gaps when reading a book. Maybe it’s another way of saying ‘show not tell’.

3) Care:
Charles Darwin again and one of the great mis-predictions. Darwin’s dad told his teenage son ‘you care for nothing but shooting, dogs and rat-catching. You will be a disgrace to yourself and all your family.’ But when Darwin found something he really did care about then he, arguably, changed the world.
I’ll never change the world but if I really care about my characters and my story then I hope I might at least catch someone else’s attention for a while.

Helen's details:

Helen Corner
tel: 020 8968 0777
mob: 07971 457358

Listed by The Society of Authors
Scouts for leading literary agents

'Teach Yourself: How to Write a Blockbuster' by Helen Corner and Lee Weatherly, Hodder

Forthcoming workshop: February 11-13th Children's writers only workshop

1 comment:

Paul Burman said...

I love this response. A worthy winner. Congrats, rdb.