Thursday 9 August 2012

Why Coachwood Critique?

The Coachwood is a medium-sized tree growing in temperate rainforests along eastern Australia. And I happen to have one growing in my own little suburban rainforest. The Coachwood has two great virtues:

1)    It’s practical: it was much prized in the past as a decorative, fragrant timber that was easy to work with. It was used in fine timber work such as cabinet making and coach building, but was also used in more practical tool making; from axe-handles to WW2 fighter-bombers.

2)    It’s beautiful: the Coachwood is one of the most beautiful trees in the forest, with distinctively mottled grey, silver, pink and green bark. It also produces multitudes of creamy pink star-shaped flowers during the warmer months. A stand of Coachwood trees is a beautiful sight.

What does any of this have to do with writing? Well, I think great writing needs to do at least two things:

1)    It must be practical: telling the story of a character, or an event, or a research finding, or a business venture, or why the writer should win a job vacancy. It must be clear and easy to read. Efficient in its use of words, grammar and punctuation. And like any good tool, it needs to function as it was designed.

2)    But it also should have ‘beauty’: there are no bad stories, someone once told me, just bad story tellers. If what you have to say stirs emotions – be it engaging, or entertaining, or fascinating, or disturbing, or exciting – then it can only strengthen what it is you have to say. Your words should elicit a response; otherwise the reader may stop turning the pages, or click somewhere else. It should inspire or excite, horrify or amuse, change an opinion, or fortify one. It should move the reader. It should have flow and feeling and sound and rhythm.

In everything I write – be it an entry in a short story competition, or my next business writing project – I try to apply this approach. Hence – Coachwood Critique.

1 comment:

  1. My questions are now answered!! A really lovely read Dave.