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To be a writer....WRITE!!

 Folks, Ive made a copy of this story on Medium. If you like the stark, shiny interface that Medium provides, please head over and read the story here. If you want bleeding cool textures and edgier backgrounds, I dont have it here either , but only because the buddy I normally rely on for layouts and formatting is guzzling pina coladas on a beach in Goa at the moment and wont be back till next month.

Onwards to the article...

The problem with seeking advice from the internet is that people are all too prepared to give it without any thought to how qualified they actually are to be dishing out said advice.

This is especially true for writing.

You can master the intricacies of grammar and bend it to your will, yet good sentences will elude you. You can craft vivid and beautiful plots in your mind but they turn into steaming piles of putrid garbage when they are penned down. And there is abysmally poor advice out there that frankly nobody should listen to, even if the writer of said advice has an impressive pedigree. In large part, it is because writing is such a personal process. You are attempting to define the boundaries and scope of something vast and limitless like your imagination, and you are trying to use someone else’s framework.

Good advice needs to match your writing style. It's like being given a gun and told to go and now down your enemies. But if your enemy is a nest of cockroaches in your home , a gun is just the wrong tool for the job . You’ll probably do more damage to your house (in this example your manuscript) by shooting gaping holes through the structural walls that make it up instead of doing the sensible thing and quietly killing them with a slipper.

What I'm planning to do here is list what worked for me with the caveat that it may not work for you. I use adverbs, use the word just, have plenty of to be verbs and passive voice in my writing. All of these are big no-no’s in the advice given to early writers. I do aim to tweak and fix some of these as much as I can, but often enough it can happen that the passage in question sounds perfectly fine and editing it for the sake of adhering to a rule doesn’t make sense.

Here are two writing tips I'm going to share.

Tip #1

The secret to being a writer is write. It’s in the name. Be a terrible writer if that is what you are meant to be, but be a writer. Set aside an hour a day, preferably at the same time, and write. Pick a random topic if you don’t have an idea for a novel. Fan fic, a LinkedIn article, an essay about the life of cats or one critiquing the latest movie/tv show you’ve seen. The effort that goes into writing isn’t wasted — it all plays a role in honing your craft.

I happen to be a pantser, not a plotter. The result? I have half a dozen abandoned stories on my laptop that don’t seem to go anywhere. One of them’ s about 30k words, another’s 15k — its tempting to dismiss them as a colossal waste of time, but they all had a role to play. The habit and discipline of putting words to paper matters a lot more than the craft itself.

Writing Tip #2

This was a gem I found on Reddit and I am copy pasting verbatim

If the reader is invested, you can get away with almost anything. If the reader is not invested, you can't get away with anything.

In role playing, we have something similar. “Nobody minds the railroad, as long as the view is pretty and the destination is Awesometown”. In RPG terms (just in case people don’t know) “railroading” is when the game master has their plot that they want to force the players to follow, and they’re not really able to decide to alter it in very meaningful ways. Like, if the adventure really hinges on the players going to the Crypt of Unforeseen Consequences, then the players are going to end up there. This is mostly disliked by players.

Unless the railroad is excellent.

(End verbatim)

In other words, people don't mind if they are being led by the nose to a destination in a convoluted manner, if the journey is enjoyable. So make it worthwhile. Give them an emotional hook to the path it's taking. Show what's running through the mind of the protagonist as he makes his choices. Don't let him do stupid things that would make the reader think “I would never do something like that” Make him instead feel “@#$% I didn’t expect that”. Or “@#$% I hope he/she is ok or “#$%% this is an exciting plot twist!! This emotional investment is the most important part of getting the reader onboard.

Good luck and signing off for now!! 


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