Enjoy Your Writing

Writers often speak of Writer’s Block and allied obstacles to the entire process of writing. May be you aren’t able to make time for writing, may be you are not satisfied with your output, or may be you are not motivated to write as you once were. I decided to share my thoughts and those of others to budding and seasoned writers alike.

Sadly we are in the midst of the gloom of the Covid 19 Pandemic which is hitting us so badly all over the world. What can we do to write and make ourselves -and hopefully others around us who read our work- more happy?

I keep harping on the need for writers to never stop reading! You can read whatever interests you but do read. In the process, you pick up many tips, consciously or otherwise on what successful writers do in presenting their stories. There is so much to read out there that techniques of speed reading also help us in this world of information overkill. This article in Buffer.com tells you how to read more to write better.

If, like me, you enjoy reading short stories and would like to try writing one, please check out this article by Jerry Jenkins on How To Write A Short Story That Captivates Your Reader. I particularly liked the description of how Ernest Hemingway accepted the challenge to write a story in less than 10 words! He wrote: ” For sale: baby shoes. Never worn.“. How impactful and gut wrenching! But then Hemingway was a genius, wasn’t he?

Kurt Vonnegut has shared his tips to write a great short story. My favourite in his list: “Every sentence must do one of two things–reveal character or advance the action”. If it does neither, don’t use it. As simple as that!

For a more technical and comprehensive approach, do read: “Short Story Writing For Beginners: A Guide” by Writer and Freelancer, N A Turner. This is a good article which details the different elements involved in writing a short story. It highlights that writing is not only about sitting someplace and waiting for That Great Story Idea to hit you!

To conclude, listen to what one of my favourite writers, Stephen King said : “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut… If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.”

I hope this blog post kindles the interest in writing in you, or in some cases, re-kindles that dormant interest. Happy writing, and of course before that- happy reading!!

“The Writer’s Digest Handbook of Short Story Writing Volume II” : Ed. Jean M. Fredette

All of us who love writing, and reading of course, can do with periodic reminders on how to hone our writing skills. That there is no end to learning is well known. In this context, I was happy to recently read, ” The Writer’s Digest Handbook of Short Story Writing: Volume II“, edited by Jean M. Fredette. 

This collection of articles on short story writing was published by the well-known Writers Digest Books in 1991. I came across this book in our Club library. It is striking that all the points made still remain relevant though nearly three decades have gone by since the book was first published. It is edited by Jean M. Fredette , who was an Acquisitions Editor of Writer’s Digest and has edited several of their books.

The only thing that has changed has been the process of submitting a manuscript. While the principles remain pretty much the same, much of the process has got simplified thanks to the progress in technology. We can now submit manuscripts over the internet, no longer being bound to print and send the manuscript in physical form in many cases. However, do check the submission guidelines mentioned by the publisher.

Seven chapters encompass a wealth of material in this book, covering sections such as, ” Getting Started”, ” Craft and Technique”, and ” Marketing The Short Story”. Each of the chapters have contributions from distinguished authors who have generously shared their experience and expertise. Principal amongst them are Adela Rogers St. John, Lawrence Block, and John Updike.

From very basic points which we sometimes overlook ( like repeating words/phrases so often that they jar) to more sophisticated aspects like Sentence Structure, Transitions, and Dialogue, this book has tips for the novice and the experienced writer alike.

Reading this book reinforced in me why writing is really a craft. The material in this volume really applies for any kind of writing . It is not restricted to short story writing as the title implies.