The Myth: Writing good fiction is a mysterious process. It’s an art and we can’t really define how it works or why it works.
Writing is a process that can be taught and understood. The novel is old. (“Pamela”, Samuel Richardson’s epistolary novel of 1740 is by some estimates the first novel, although examples of book-length fiction can be identified much, much earlier than that.) The short story is a whole lot older. There are many examples dating back to the advent of man himself.
Novels and short stories have been dissected and we know how they work and why whey work. We know what causes them to fail as well and why some people who would like to write a novel never do.
It is no more mystical than building fine furniture or learning to play the bassoon. There is a way of working that leads to learning, which leads to accomplishment. It is not an art, it is a craft. This is important because if you call it an art then the focus is on the artist. If you call it a craft then the focus is on technique. Let’s call it a craft.
The Truth: Writing good fiction is a learned process. It’s a craft and we know how it works and why it works.