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Posts Tagged ‘kill your darlings’

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I’ve been asked more than once when my book was getting published.

“I am not writing a book,” I said.

Yet, I am a writer.

There are many stereotypes attached to writers and the craft of writing. Not all writers are novelists and not all writers have an epiphany from heaven to create memorable pieces. Well, if they do, I haven’t heard of any. While writing, they also do not revel in silks and stroke a furry feline and neither are they constantly mired in their own thoughts and removed from the society. But we will let these ideas coexist with the fact that writing is one of the most versatile of professions.

If you are considering writing as a comeback career option, make a candid evaluation of your writing and storytelling skills first.

Do you have what it takes?

Are you a natural at this? Do friends praise you for your witty or insightful updates? Are you the default communicator for the PTO ? Do you always have a story running in your head while doing chores?

Facts for the aspiring writer:

The good news first – you do not need a formal education in communication or journalism to get a job as a writer, though it helps. A flair for writing, good grammar skills and the default ingredient called passion are good enough.

Content that counts – Start with writing about what you know best to build your writing repository, whether it’s food, politics, health or parenting tips.

Options, options – Understand  your style of writing and then determine which industry it fits best. If you have a science background and the ability to write a clean copy, you might consider the field of medical writing. An aptitude for descriptive renditions could open doors to real estate writing. There are numerous options in PR, Digital as well as Marketing, like ad copy and printed materials.

Showing it off – Should you have a portfolio? Yes, but you don’t have to be intimidated by the thought of putting one together. Web links to your published work, or samples of unpublished pieces as attachments to your resume would do very well. Build writing credits one piece at a time.

Check out some of the best web-based portfolio sites for writers here.

How can you hone your craft?

Write! There is no other way to learn this other than to JUST write.

Drop everything and make notes when you get your ‘aha’ moment, and believe me, you will! At places and times you might never imagine the muse will visit you. Grocery receipts have come in handy many times for me. Phrases, memories, visuals, jingles, anything could lead to a full- fledged story.  Just remember to jot them down the old fashioned way, using a pen and paper (believe me, this works), or send a recorded message to yourself in their absence.The Notes App on most Smartphones is also a great tool. Do remember to file away all your divine or otherwise revelations later.

Read! You can’t be a good writer without being an avid reader.

Set deadlines and stick to them. Oftentimes the longer you fuss over a writing piece, the worse it gets.

Identify a mentor, partner to inspire you or co-write with and use Apps like Google Docs for shared work. For a free tutorial click here.

Refine! Keep the piece aside and revisit after a day or so with a fresh set of eyes.

Kill  your darlings! Don’t fall in ‘forever love’ with a phrase, paragraph or a character. Every word in a short piece should serve a purpose. If not, delete it.

“When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone….”—Stephen King, WD

The true mark of a good writer is a commitment to the craft, perseverance, and the ability to read, revise and polish until it reads just right.

Ernest Hemingway said it best, “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”

So go ahead, tell that story. And remember – the worst thing you write is better than the best thing you didn’t!

Watch out for Part-2  on the How-to’s and Job Prospects for the aspiring writer.

You can also read this and other insightful articles pertaining to your ‘return to work place’ at Maroon Oak

 

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When reading about Hemingway, I came across his iceberg Theory.

The Iceberg Theory (also known as the “theory of omission”) is a term used to describe the writing style of American writer Ernest Hemingway. The theory is this: The meaning of a piece is not immediately evident, because the crux of the story lies below the surface, just as most of the mass of a real iceberg similarly lies beneath the surface. For example The Old Man and the Sea is a meditation upon youth and age, even though the protagonist spends little or no time thinking on those terms.In his essay “The Art of the Short Story”, Hemingway is clear about his method: “A few things I have found to be true. If you leave out important things or events that you know about, the story is strengthened. If you leave or skip something because you do not know it, the story will be worthless. The test of any story is how very good the stuff that you, not your editors, omit.”

From reading Rudyard Kipling he absorbed the practice of shortening prose as much as it could take. Of the concept of omission, Hemingway wrote in “The Art of the Short Story”: “You could omit anything if you knew that you omitted and the omitted part would strengthen the story and make people feel something more than they understood.” By making invisible the structure of the story, he believed the author strengthened the piece of fiction and that the “quality of a piece could be judged by the quality of the material the author eliminated.”

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