Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Writing Don't Make a Writer

Isn't it interesting the extent to which the blindingly obvious is stated as the brand new. Perhaps it's one's age but so much of what I read is equivalent to the instruction not to light up a cigarette in a petrol station.

So let's blind you with the obvious.

If you are a wannabe writer, if you have dabbled, if your mum loves your school essays, if all your friends tell you to set your stories down, do it.

It is a start. The start. But only a start.

Execute what you write in short, sharp sentences. Forget flowery descriptions, over-puffed analogies, excessive psychological motivations: stick with what happens. It will make you feel uncomfortable, as though you are truncating your talent. You are not. Your talent is not to establish a new set of clich├ęs but to tell an unique story.

Strip all description. Allow the characters to speak for themselves without you interceding on their behalves and interpreting how the reader should understand what you mean them to say.

If he/she is irate, what they say should effect their irritation, not the adverb qualifying the mode of their speech.

"Fuck off" needs no qualifiers; less crude language, suitably crafted, allows the reader to understand how to read the mood of the protagonist.

On that topic, do not, more emphatically, DO NOT, attempt to control the interpretation of the reader. You have no control. To my mind, that is the joy of writing; you never know how the words you have set on paper will affect others; their imaginations, with your prompting, will escape into the night air to dance with moths.

Start simple, stay simple, pretend not to be a writer, i.e. someone you regard as a writer; be as true and honest to yourself and your characters as you can; worry about improving your words as experience teaches you; because you can string words together on a page does not make you a writer or author - years, and I mean years, of work take that. I know, I have written professionally for forty years and am just beginning to feel comfortable.

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