My ideas are a shapeless mass that my writing molds into beauty

The ancient Greeks believed the objects we created represented an idealized form of that thing. A sculptor chipped away at a block of marble to find the perfect representation of a body; the painter filling the blank canvas sought to create the perfect representation of a landscape.

When writing, you are like a potter who takes a shapeless mass of clay and seeks to mold it into a beautiful vase. The potter visualizes the size, form, shape and decorations upon the vase. In the same way, a writer envisions the length, genre, plot and style of his story.

Rather than clay, words are the writer’s natural material. And just as clay from one quarry might be different in its texture and color from clay found in another region, so each word you use is different in its meaning and sound.

True craftsmanship for the potter comes in being aware of what can be done with the clay and then having the knowledge and skills to shape it upon a wheel and properly fire it in a kiln. A writer also must be aware of what can be done with the words before him, of how to string them into sentences that best evoke the feeling and captures the message of the story.

Where the potter pinches the spinning clay or coils it into a structure, the writer must compress passages to get the most out of his characters and descriptions or lays out the plot so it takes the reader on an intriguing journey worth reading.

And just as a potter might find his fingers have left an imperfection and so remolds the wet clay upon the wheel or just as a sculptor might chip away a bit too much in one area and so revisits that portion of the statue to cover the flaw, so a writer must revise and rewrite paragraphs, passages and scenes to ensure the story best reflects an envisioned form of the tale.

If like the potter and the sculptor you keep at it, eventually you will rub out all of the blemishes in your story – and create a thing of beauty that brings joy and meaning to others, as certainly as any vase or statue does.


My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.