Gene Fowler joked, “writing is easy. You only need to stare at a blank piece of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.”
As a writer, just as important as your final product is the process by which that product is created and completed. Like in any creative process, you will need to develop a specific toolbox that makes the work process smoother and increases efficiency. Your toolbox includes skills, techniques and strategies. Your writing style is just as important as organising work or from where you get your inspiration. While it is important to be creative, staying organised and focused on finishing the project is equally important. You can easily get distracted and carried away. Make a plan, stick to the program, set up strict targets and deadlines.
The most important thing in order to write is to read. Read other authors for inspiration by looking critically at
how they are deploying their techniques. Some crafts are best learned by stealing. You can grab a book of novels or poetry, choose a phrase randomly from there, and use it as your starting point.
Getting started is sometimes the most challenging. You may have a general idea of what you want to write and the structure of the work, but the first word, the first phrase you will put down on paper, the one that will introduce the reader to your world, is crucial. It is like a pick-up line. You can win or lose a reader with it.
Another common trick is to work backwards: begin at the finish. When you know how it ends, you’ll know the steps to get there.
One efficient technique in “getting started” writing a piece is to zone into one of the “creative channels”. The most frequently used ones are feeling, thinking and observing. The approach through feelings is the emotional response to things, what images are evoked when you think about a particular topic. Thinking is the introspective look at whatever topic you have, from a philosophical or logical perspective. Finally, observing is the most objective channel, where you write about something purely based on observation without any emotional involvement or bias. Choosing one of these depends especially on the nature of the work.
The so-called “free write” method can be effective. For example, a five to ten minute “free rambling” can spark an idea of what to write about.
Make sure people will understand what you intend to transmit. While being vague or elusive can be intriguing to some extent, precise language can make the difference between an engaging and boring story or poem.
Some of the most popular non-fiction types of writing are personal essay, memoir, short-short, literary journalism and lyric essay.
The personal essay is usually written in the first person, focuses on a personal experience, and may strongly affect the reader. The voice and tone are essential in the personal essay because they reflect the attitude the writer is trying to get through.
Similarly, the memoir also reveals a personal experience, but it is a longer piece of work. It is typically, but not necessarily, a narrative, using multiple scenes to explore and examine the author’s life. Memoirs can be about nearly anything in your personal experience that is significant for you to want to share or can be a collection of snapshots of moments from your life.
A short-short is, regularly, a narrative work that is concise and to the point. It uses imagery and details to relay the meaning or the main idea of the piece.
Literary journalism uses interviews and reviews to look outside of the straightforward, objective world that journalism creates. Instead, it uses literary techniques to capture the personal aspects of the story and characters.
The lyric essay is similar to the personal essay in that it also deals with a topic that affects the reader, relies heavily on descriptions and imagery.
Fiction writing, on the other hand, allows creativity to run limitless. However, while imagination is crucial, don’t let yourself too carried away. Some of the best stories have ordinary people as characters and seemingly mundane settings and plots. The best stories are believable.
Don’t be afraid of making changes. You are controlling the story, and not the story controls you.
Keep the story “simple” and interesting. There is a tendency to include everything that happened, but in reality, not every scene is relevant. Are the scenes and the revelations within scenes arranged to best impact, for intensity and cause and effect? Keep your story moving.
Similarly, don’t introduce too many characters. They will make the story hard to follow and may create confusion. The main characters should be well defined, while the minor characters can often be combined for simplicity’s sake.
Use short sentences instead of complex phrases. They make the story easy to follow and to read less demanding.
There are no crash courses in poetry. However, it can be crucial to master the language.
Once you have finished a piece, you should “put it away” for a couple of days, perhaps a week. Then, read over with fresh eyes. The first draft isn’t always the best. You will find phrases or paragraphs which can be further polished or improved. Make sure that your story a beginning, middle, and ending. Something should have been set up, happen, and then be over. There is anything that makes it worth telling? Does the reader learn anything? Does the first paragraph hook your reader? Then, look at the last paragraph, it has an “echo”? Some stories are better with a closed-end, others with an open end. Are you intend to continue the story and write a follow-up? Chose accordingly.
Feedback is essential. Before publishing a piece, it would be recommended to get feedback from a few different people. They can point out aspects that would never cross your mind otherwise.
Excerpt from the book “Moonatic Guide and Journal”.
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