“DULCE (beauty) plus utile (use) equals effective creative writing.”

Aspiring creative writers found guidance in the words of Lakangiting Garcia, Palanca laureate and a professor of Filipino of the De La Salle University, during the “Malikhaing Pagsulat” seminar sponsored by the UST Publishing House last Feb. 2.

Like travelers embarking on a journey, Garcia discussed to the young writers creative writing fundamentals, emphasizing the importance of basic formulae which include the writer’s creation of truth, beauty, and goodness as well as the necessary visual, vocal, and verbal elements of any creative work.

According to Garcia, there are three types of thinking towards writing––pre-critical, critical, and post-critical. Pre-critical thinking does not involve decisiveness in writing as he compares it to a reaction on a tap on a shoulder; one doesn’t think about it but merely responds to it.

“Critical thinking gives consideration to the originality of the composition despite outside influences,” he said. Post-critical thinking, meanwhile, is that of asking for feedback from readers.

Garcia also said, writers should seek the true intention of their work be it to inform or simply to express oneself. Here, he said, lies the significance of truth, goodness, and beauty––classical aspects of writing––to express intention.

Revealing too much

According to Garcia, an author often reveals too much in a literary work. While it is the writer’s decision to reveal all information about himself and his subjects or to hold back, a proper amount of restraint and control is key to literary quality. Garcia said a problem arises when a reader has negative reactions to the composition, if he feels he was the writer’s subject or that his life became an inspiration of the story. And an issue regarding an necessarily his own.

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Fr. Lana's term (1998-2006)

One’s memory of experiences and feelings also significantly contributes to the truth of the composition, Garcia said. Even though creative writing utilizes the imagination, fictional characters and situations are still inspired by reality. “Ang awtor ay ang eksperto sa sariling karanasan,” he stressed.

But no matter how much the writer tries to bring back the exact moment through writing, he pointed out its impossibility because words are not enough to describe the totality of reality. Like an old photograph, recollections fade around the edges, losing its vivid clarity little by little as days pass. The work’s content of truth becomes lacking, but Garcia said knowing this defect is half the battle of correcting it. “Laging may kahinaan sa kahit gaanong kagandang obra,” he said. “Ngunit ang kaalaman sa kahinaan ang unang hakbang sa katatagan.”

The fundamentals of writing provided by Garcia might be cliché, but they gave useful tips to those about to start their journey to successful creative writing.

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