Creativity is an innate instinct in humans. This is evident from the ancient carvings, paintings and other forms of art seen in caves and archaeological findings. Anyone can develop these skills to become a writer.
But people find themselves restricted by various self-made barriers. These imaginary hurdles include reticence, lack of time, inability to find publishers, discouragement by peers and cold feet.
People often believe, penning their thoughts is a sheer waste of time since nobody would appreciate the effort.
In this article, we provide useful tips on how to become a successful writer and the various types of writing you can enjoy.
6Ws and 1H
The six ‘W’ and one ‘H’ is the basis of all writing. This idiom is used by journalists across the world since decades. The five ‘W’s include Who, What, Why, Which, When, Where. The one ‘H’ stands for the question ‘How’.
To be a successful writer, you need to answer all these questions related to proposed article, regardless of whether it is based on fact or fiction. Successful writers answer these questions while covering an assignment or writing a feature, essay or story.
Fiction writers create an imaginary character and place and spin their story using these questions. Anyone who watches movies will find that any plot revolves around these seven questions.
Some style books limit themselves to five ‘W’ and a single ‘H’ but you can choose which questions to begin with.
Eye for detail and keen observation
Every writing- whether it is a down-to-earth news report, heart wrenching love story or a script for a nightmarish horror movie are based on fine details.
Such details are the essence and spice of success and actually decide whether a story gets published or dunked in the nearest trashcan.
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ by legendary Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson contains all details about the house, garden and laboratory of the fictional character Dr. Henry Jekyll.
It gives a complete description of the scientist’s persona, describing his traits as a typical English gentleman who is well respected in the society.
Minute details including the taste of the potion concocted by Dr. Jekyll, the pains and mental agony he undergoes after consuming it are well defined. The character Mr. Edward Hyde is described in a manner that helps forming an image of this persona in the reader’s mind naturally.
The same holds true for English playwright Shakespeare’s epic ‘Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare writes at length to describe the beauty of Juliet to minute details such as the fragrance of her skin and lip colour as well as the brawny and attractive physique of her lover, Romeo. Stevenson and Shakespeare set their stories in an imagined environment that was created from real-life observations.
At the same time too much fine detail puts off readers.
Invoke the Artistic License to overcome language barriers
Most people who wish to write restrain themselves due to lack of proper language skills. Proper knowledge of any language and correct use of words is vital for a writer to ink a successful real-life story or work of fiction. But some degree of deviation from correct language is permitted under the Artistic License.
The Artistic License, also called the Poetic License is not a real ‘license’ issued by any government or organization. Artistic License simply means the assumed permission to use words, phrases and grammar loosely but in a manner that describes something more astutely.
A great example is the alliterative poem ‘The Siege of Belgrade’ which runs: An Austrian army awfully arrayed, boldly by battery besieged Belgrade, Cossack commanders cannonading come…..”
As will be evident, the English poet Alaric Alexander Watts sacrificed correct grammar in favour of alliterative sentences while describing a real life scenario, the Battle of Belgrade.
Keep it simple- the magic phrase
Merely knowing a language fluently is not sufficient for a writer. One has to bear in mind that readers come from all age groups and with different levels of linguistic proficiency.
Several good writers shy away from putting their creativity in words because they are not well versed in a language.
It is vital to bear in mind almost every reader on Planet Earth prefers to read stories- fact or fiction- that are penned in simple language.
Nobody wants to reach out for a dictionary or thesaurus while enjoying a novel or reading newspapers. Avoid use of technical jargon unless absolutely necessary. Slangs can be used safely provided their meaning is well understood.
Pack your words with power
Means minimal use of correct words and phrases to convey the meaning. For example, the word ‘inebriated’ can be used in place of ‘very heavily drunk’.’ Several online resources and guidelines that help writers to select a correct word instead of a phrase are easily available on the Internet and bookstores.
Packing that extra punch in your words allows you to better describe anything from a personality to a situation. A large fire can be described as ‘inferno’.
Free flow of thoughts
Whenever you feel like writing, get into the act immediately. Most good writers work with sudden spurts of creativity. These rare flashes of inspiration lead to excellent creativity and writing. Make the best use of these moments since another might never come.
Allow your thoughts to flow freely and unhindered without any inhibitions while writing. You can always edit and rearrange your words later.
Book publishers and newspapers always subject any writing to stringent editing and sequencing, which takes off a large load away from writers.
While doing so, do not leave out any unanswered questions in a reader’s mind. Here, the adage of ‘6Ws and 1H’ comes handy.
Great starts make great endings
All readers singularly have a short attention span. Your story can be successful provided it has grabbed the interest of the reader within the first 300 to 500 words.
If a reader feels bored at the onset, there are few chances he or she will continue reading further.
All great writers and novelists were influenced by works of some contemporary. Reading books by your favourite author helps you develop a style of writing and helps develop a judgment on how the story should flow.
Avoid disconnects by abrupt jumping or swinging wildly from one topic or situation to another. Smooth conclusion of a paragraph or chapter assists the reader to continue reading seamlessly while maintaining continuity of your story.
Getting past the censor’s scissors
Every work- fact or fiction- undergoes censorship before printing. The only exception is newspapers and news magazines which are exempted to maintain press freedom.
Long carnal and sensuous descriptions of personae or situations are almost always sniped since they can be viewed as lewd and promiscuous.
Graphic description of any gory crime, regardless of fact or fiction, will meet disapproval of censors and most likely, meet the scissors.
You can acquaint yourself about what gets past a censor by simply studying prevailing media and censorship laws. The same laws hold good for authors too though some exceptions are permitted.
Creating an indelible impression
Write in the manner that you know the best rather than using the style of another author. Book lovers become your fans when they get well acquainted with your language and style of presenting a story.
Get your own story ideas and develop them because copying the concept of another will not fetch you any accolades and recognition.
The more original your ideas and writing, the better exclusivity and exclusiveness you enjoy. And that is what publishers look for. The title of your work should be indubitably original. This attracts readers and publishers too and can define the profitability of your book.
Copyright your works always
An unfortunate practice that occurs in the writing profession is plagiarism. Simply put, it means somebody copies your idea, tweaks your word and takes the credit and money by publishing it under their name. Copyrighting your works protects it from such pirates.
Registering the title and contents of your work with the concerned government department helps prevent plagiarising of your works while keeping its title your exclusive property. This can be a put-off for budding writers due to formalities involved.
Publishing houses can procure this Intellectual Property protection for your works without much effort.
Types of writers
Author: a person who writes fiction and non-fiction stories is broadly described as an author though use of this term is largely ambiguous.
Poet and balladeer: People who write poetry. Almost everyone can write poetry with rhyming verses if they exert some minimal effort.
Writing ballads is however more complex since it depends on chronicling and describing real life events in flowery language.
Journalist: These are categorized as people who deliver news stories. To become a journalist, one must have a keen sense of news and a very fine eye for detail since these will be required in a report. Journalism ranks among the most dangerous professions of the world.
Content writer/ Blogger: A person who informally writes about any topic exclusively for independent publication on the Internet is called a content writer or blogger. In recent years, content writer jobs has evolved into a lucrative profession provided your work meets certain prescribed criterion.
They earn by either providing write-ups for blog sites or launching their own Internet blog. They can also get writing jobs from popular freelance sites.
Chronicler: Avid interest in a particular event or a personality are the prerequisites to become a chronicler.
This category includes biography writers or people who study and write about all details of a famous personality. Writers who provide historical timelines about an event or development fall within this category.
Critiques: These are individuals who possess a certain skill that can be utilized to gauge the quality of anything- from a humble meal to a movie or a book and a host of other stuff.
To qualify as a critique, one must possess or have keen interest in the subject they wish to assess.
Travelogue Writers: People who write about various travel destinations and attractions on offer are called travelogue writers.For those who loves travelling, this profession can create one of the good opportunity among travel industry.
Excellent knowledge about places, cuisine, culture, local laws and issues combined with exemplary presentation skills are called for when writing about any destination for travel.
This work also involves writing about food and history of a place, its people and culture, among others.
Ghost Writers or Moonlighters: These are real life people and not spooks as the word may suggest. Ghost writers or moonlighters are people who write stories and articles that are published under another name.
Their identity often remains a secret. They willingly allow another person to take credit for their works.
Erotica writers: These are people who write steamy stories that may sometimes border on vulgarity. Erotica writers write sexually explicit stories with no holds barred on use of language or description of the male and female anatomy.
They use graphic language to arouse carnal instincts of the reader. This is one of the most lucrative categories of writers.
Playwrights: Authors who write dramas, complete with the plot and script as well as dialogues for the personae are called playwrights.
In colonial days, playwrights were feared by the government since they subtly spun nationalistic messages into their plays which directly influenced people to fight for independence.
The category also includes script writers. Script writers convert a story into a script that can be acted by various characters.
People sans any training have emerged as some of the best writers in history. Legendary authors like Mark Twain, HG Wells and Charles Dickens had minimal formal education. One of the top icons of America’s corporate world, Lee Iacocca and management guru Peter Drucker had never intended to become writers.
They shed every inhibition and took to their pens or keypads to put their thoughts in words.
These guidelines may encourage you to put your thoughts on paper. With some luck, you may emerge as one of the topmost writers in your category.