TIPS ‘N’ TRICKS
Writing is a process that people tend to perceive from various angles. Some use it as a catalyst, some use it to share ideas, and some develop fictional narratives to provoke thoughts and create social allegories. I believe the skills required to become a writer are not directly linked to the art of writing. Here are a few skills that you can polish to enhance your writing style and expression:
To become a writer, you need to acquire research skills. As a fiction writer, you would need to create worlds, or world-building, as it is usually referred to. You would need to search for actual places to take inspiration from when creating your setting. You would need to research equipment and gadgets that may or may not exist, but you would want your character to use them.
You would like to do research for your non-fiction work as well. It will include a thorough study of the topic and its components. Researching does not mean performing a search on Google to find the topic or idea you are looking for. It includes knowing what you are looking for and then creating branches out of the main topic(s) to analyze more of the sub-topics. For instance, you want to write a book about the history of publishing in Pakistan. This will include: the history, past, present, and future of the publishing industry; key national and international publishing houses; authors from all provinces who wrote in various languages; categorizing authors and publishers according to genre; nationally acclaimed authors; self-publishing vs. traditional publishing; publishing houses run by young writers; and many more aspects that you may think about along the way.
Writers need to be keen observers. They should observe the sights and sounds, people, activities, and environment of their society and the place they live. They have to observe human behavior and psyche, attitude, aptitude, and cause and effect to translate the same into messages. Indeed, it is societal trends, actions, thoughts, and norms that writers pick up as themes and topics. Such topics become social allegories that writers explore in fiction and non-fiction. Researching, writing, and editing are tasks that require patience. Writers need to be patient when performing these tasks. There is no overnight success for writers. Each step must be pursued and completed with diligence. Writers may take six to twelve months to compile their research, and a similar amount of time may be required to write the first draft. Editing and proofreading is another interesting yet tedious activity that must be done slowly and steadily.
When it comes to writing, storytelling is a key skill. Tell stories to uplift the readers’ consciousness, provoke their thoughts, inform, and entertain. Write about social topics, create worlds and characters resonating with the readers, identify real-life characters and give them a spin, and take less-discussed topics to build a narrative around them.
Linked to storytelling are writing skills. Enhance them by focusing on grammar, punctuation, vocabulary, and tenses. Write clear sentences, be concise and complete when narrating, be clear and logical when explaining, adapt a pertinent tone when informing or persuading, and be descriptive when explaining scenes and actions. “Show, don’t tell” is a skill you should develop. It refers to the use of descriptive and vivid language to explain emotions and information in a story. The skill of being creative will help you view a topic from another angle.
It is a skill writers need to sharpen. They should discipline themselves to meet deadlines and juggle between writing and completing tasks of personal and professional importance.
Another skill that is needed by writers is critical thinking. Writers should analyze and evaluate their learning curve by comparing their present work with work completed in the past. They should also read work by other authors in the same genre for a comparative study.
And, finally, you need to read as much as you can to polish your writing skills. The content that you absorb will merge with your subconscious, only to be utilized during thinking or writing.
The writer is a fiction writer, columnist and author of Divided Species – a sci-fi story set in Karachi