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KEV67

How clever are book authors?

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How brainy do you have to be to write a good book? I have often wondered. Can you make up by steady application what you lack in spontaneous creativity? I posted about Umberto Eco earlier. He was definitely very clever. In Focault's Pendulum he had two or three characters discuss the history of Freemasonry, the Rosicrucians and the Knights Templar for about 700 pages . They hardly drew breath. I was frustrated waiting for the action to start. I am looking at a poster of We Need to Talk About Kevin. by Lionel Shriver. When I read that book, I thought this woman is having deeper thoughts than I have ever had during my entire life. Motives and memories are explored at great length. I am reading a biography of Winston Churchill, who did a bit of writing himself, although non-fiction. Despite his school results and officer entry exam results not being outstanding, he was a pretty clever guy with an incredible memory. He wrote a four volume history on the first Duke of Marlborough. He was not a minister at the time, but he was an MP and he was pretty busy with other stuff. I am reading a Jack Reacher. Lee Child can think up some ingenious plots. My favourite booktuber has just had a book published (or accepted for publishing). I do not know how she managed to write a book while holding down a job, reading as many books as she did, and generating so many YouTube videos. She talks quick and she reads quick. I suspect she is pretty clever. J.R.R. Tolkein was a professor of English at Oxford. He must be the king of world building. In Silmarillion he wrote something like an Old Testament for the Lord of the Rings, and he invented at least one new language and parts of others. Still, maybe not every successful author needs to be as clever.

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I don't think brains are necessarily a prerequisite for writing a good and thoughtful book. A mastery of language and the ability to put words together (whether or not it follows grammatical mores) definitely is. Writing is a craft that needs to be worked at and honed, just like somebody can't design a ballgown that will fit, flatter, be comfortable and suit the fabric without knowing about dressmaking and the properties of various materials.

 

The other thing is to read, read, read.

 

I wouldn't call discussing all sorts of subjects while the reader waits for something to happen clever, it's the literary equivalent of being a pub bore as far as I'm concerned (I haven't read Focault's Pendulum by the way!)

 

Your Youtuber while probably being bright is also probably not reading every word of the books she reviews (ask yourself for a moment how the judges for the Booker manage to read all the books entered, they have to skim) and she may be writing her book in conjunction with someone else. Otherwise she could simply be very organised, if you set yourself to write 500 words a day you can complete an 80,000 word novel in under 6 months.

 

Was Jane Austen super bright? Clever certainly and she came from a very literate family and she wrote and wrote. Dickens? Much of his writing was motivated by the need to make money, Dostoievski was another who was paid by the page. Dickens was also driven by social injustice. Was Emily Bronte brilliant or the owner of an incredible imagination (and another who wrote and wrote and wrote)? Lee Child may be a genius IQ wise for all I know but for me he's the perfect example of someone who is very slick and practiced at producing page turners, some of the plots have huge unliklinesses in them but it doesn't matter  because he's so good at making the reader turn the page. That is clever.

 

 

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I don't think that an ultra high IQ is required to be a good writer either. It's a skill that can be acquired and the more you practice the better it gets.

 

I've read Stephen Hawking and Nietzsche and neither of them wrote novels - as far as I'm aware - and both were super intelligent. 

 

Not read any of the ones you mentioned but good time-management will help a person achieve writing and a full time job at the same time, some people do that naturally and others learn how to do it as they go along and there are also courses on managing time nowadays.

 

Was Shakespeare highly intelligent?

 

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4 hours ago, lunababymoonchild said:

I don't think that an ultra high IQ is required to be a good writer either. It's a skill that can be acquired and the more you practice the better it gets.

 

I've read Stephen Hawking and Nietzsche and neither of them wrote novels - as far as I'm aware - and both were super intelligent. 

 

Not read any of the ones you mentioned but good time-management will help a person achieve writing and a full time job at the same time, some people do that naturally and others learn how to do it as they go along and there are also courses on managing time nowadays.

 

Was Shakespeare highly intelligent?

 

I am sure many productive people do not do much chilling.

 

Regarding Shakespeare, he did not write too many plots. He mostly re-wrote existing stories (maybe I am wrong there). On the other hand, I have never tried to write in iambic pentameter, but it sounds difficult.

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