|“To write well, express yourself like the common people, but think like a wise man,” said Aristotle. Do you agree? What is your advice on the subject?
This is an interesting thought. I think it's true to a certain extent. To write well, it's important to be readable--in other words to express ideas in simple, straightforward, common language. As to thinking like the wise--I think the wisdom that is needed to write depends on what is being written. The problem is, I can't think of Aristotle without considering who he was writing to--primarily young wealthy men who wanted to go into Greek politics (yes, I know, a dramatic oversimplification). For his time and people, wisdom involved philosophical and political wisdom as a major componant of what made up good writing. Even the poetics of the time involved tradition--using older legends to teach something and produce a cathartic effect on an audience.
Now, I write primarily fiction, and I don't need necessarily to know the same things that Aristotle did, however, I do need wisdom in order to write well. To make a character feel real, I need to know human motivation, both of people who are like me and people who are vastly dissimilar. To write in a time and place, I need to research. I need to know why people do the things they do, why society is set up the way it is, so that when I write, it feels real, even if I'm writing in a fantastic setting.
I also write poetry, and there it's also important to be wise. A poem is a single complete thought or image that is meant to change something in the reader, and that requires insight into the scene or the thought and the ability to share the thought with other people. So, yes. I guess I agree with Aristotle. Although I do question the wisdom of people who think they are wise and the commonness of of the ordinary. Those are such loaded terms--well . . . he was a wise man, for his time.