The answer to that question must be a qualified yes. Given the opportunity, every human being can learn to communicate. From stories passed from generation to generation in words to cave art, to writing, printing presses, and computers, men and women have always told stories. Those tales have changed from history, or magical explanations of the, at the time, inexplicable, to deliberately make-believe novels intended to entertain. It is to those novels that I refer when I ask, “who writes fiction and can it be taught”, and I don’t mean correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation – school – evening classes – proof-readers –
I told stories before I could hold a pencil, and a collection of dolls and teddy bears acted them, or did they? I had my favourites – the good guys who had families they cared about– and the ones I wished one of my aunts had never spotted pre-Sarah’s birthday. One doll is definitely reincarnated in a character an Amazon reviewer said made Cruella de Vil look like Mother Theresa.
I made plans – nowadays, they are called taglines and plots – and those dolls and teddies did exactly as they liked. Days out at the seaside –paper painted blue with a yellow strip for sand – didn’t end with my happy family piling into their car – sorry, doll’s pram. Oh no! One of the villains would have pushed a small bear into the sea, so he/she was now wet and upset. If I’d known about drowning back then, a funeral would have followed.
It still happens. Like most authors I know, my first few chapters rarely survive intact, or even at all, to publication. Take the Richard and Maria trilogy. I placed Richard carefully in County Durham, where I live, for “local appeal”. What does he do? Make it impossible for him to stay there, so he moves to London. Yes, I know and love London, but it meant mountains of research to see what might have changed since my last visit.
Maria, the “waif”, is no better, but why would she be? Adoption is one thing: a teenager heartlessly dumped on a stranger’s doorstep quite another. She doesn’t know who to trust, or if anybody will ever love her, so she feels a burden to the man landed with her.
As for the dog! I chose a Jack Russell terrier because readers were likely to recognise the breed, and he was conveniently small. Too late, I discovered Ben had all the characteristics of my current rescue dog and being terrified of being left alone anywhere but in my car was the least of them. She… SHE… is a massive Weimaraner, but she and Ben coexist in an imaginary body.
So, who writes the books? If a character is psychologically sound, he or she will behave accordingly, and the plot plan changes so much I’ve given up writing them.
Can creative writing be taught? Many Internet sites claim that it can and charge vast sums to the gullible who haven’t investigated almost free sources – writing groups. Further Education classes may or may not be free but are rarely expensive. Universities charge, but they provide a degree if you pass at a reasonable standard.
Personally, and you know this is my opinion or you wouldn’t be reading the article on my website, I don’t believe teachers can tell students how to write. After all, if their methods worked, they wouldn’t waste their time; they’d be too busy writing their next New York Times best-seller. Writers are born. Fame and fortune are down to publicity, and that can be taught. If you want to write, do it, and spend your money on learning how to tell the world.
One tip! Awards do help. My sales took off with a Readers’ Favorite Medal, and the 2019 contest closes on June 1st.