Short Story writing Guide by Pradipkumar Raol

Story writing tips

Tips for becoming a writer.

Writing is an art used since the “Cave Age” era. Ancient men used to write symbols and draw pictures on stones and walls of caves where he used to live. This they were doing it for communication purpose. We can learn much about their lives after so many years. We study and learn from books written by our ancients and contemporaries. That is how knowledge spread from one generation to the next generation. So never give it less importance. It is like any other art, perfected through practice. However, first of all you must have a strong desire to become a writer or at least must possess love for the written words. To begin with you must decide what you want to write like a story, a poem or a novel or an essay.  Actually the beginner has already decided that, depending on his/her mental makeup. Very few versatile writers can express themselves in varieties of different forms of literature just mentioned above. If I give you my example I can’t write poetry. Similarly a poet may not be able to write a story or a novel. This all depends on individual’s mental attitudes. This is one of the many aspects of writing/literature. Be it in any form it is a strong medium of expression just like painting, singing or dancing. It is creation emerging from within the deepest corners of heart. This does not mean the mind or brain has no role in any art or the art of writing. It plays a significant role in giving it proper shape and form. It constantly analyzes whether what is being written is what the writer wishes to write or is it expressed in a best way. Secondly the mind would also judge that what is brought out in written words is worthy of attention of his/her readers. Imagine the power and impact of immortal epics like “Ramayana” and “Mahabharata” on our daily lives even after five thousand years. To say something about them even in praise is undermining the unprecedented talent and wisdom of their writers. Few things must be always remembered by those who aspire to become a good writer. Always believe in yourself: yes, you can do it. That is why in the first place you had been thinking doing it all along. There is always a person who is going to motivate you, guide you and help you. Even if there is no one, just begin, plunge yourself into it wholeheartedly.   

Writing is like any other activity, some do it out of interest and hobby, and some do it as a profession, for some it is a passion. For instance, if you are in the field of media/news papers your work will greatly differ from other form of literature. The format would change depending on whether it a report of some gruesome event like murder, rape, loot or arson etc. Here, you have to be accurate and precise to the facts. Otherwise you could be challenged and even sued depending on how much you have deviated from the facts. Sometimes in jest for getting more attention don’t overdo it.  For reporting on social issues or environment, science etc, please be prepared before you begin to right. You must have lot of information about the subject at hand otherwise readers will not be satisfied. Such facts should also be supported with logical arguments and truthful data. This will impress readers and would add necessary weight or credibility to what you have written.

Another format is novel writing. Here writing becomes a process. Multitudes of factors come into picture like imagination, real life incidents, and author’s own views. These ideas seem to revolve around a central plot or theme. Often the writer incorporates his own feelings and experiences in the novel, his characters say things through him. Most of the novels are written keeping in view its salability. In other words, what people would like to read? But in long run it does not pay off. Such trash never comes up to the level of valued literature.  But it has a recreational value. Here, again don’t be afraid of bringing new ideas before the readers, listen to your inner voice. Gandhiji’s autobiography is an example. Experimentation in literature is always allowed and welcomed. Generate your own style. Establish a rapport with your readers instantly with simple and lucid style.  Using linguistic heavy words which nobody understands often backfires; the reader may soon get bored. Not advisable to dwell too much on describing surroundings. Another important aspect in novel or story writing is that the characters you have created must appear as if they are live and true. This is called characterization. The readers must feel their happiness or sorrows or at least understand it. Even if you are describing about a place or a city it must invoke a feeling that it really exists. Here, your experience and knowledge is required. If you have never visited an airport then your description of it would not impress your readers. So make a visit to the place you want to write about or use other means. Google could be a help. Don’t use repetitive words and sentences which says the same thing. Edition of your work is thus important. Rewrite a sentence or paragraph or even few pages if you don’t like it.

There are Love Stories, Suspense, Thrillers, Science Fictions, Fairy Tales, Horror Stories, Adventure, Biographies, Revenge stories, and Rags to riches stories, real life tales and murder mystery in the world of novels.  A novel could be a mix of any of these elements or themes. However, invariably you will find these ideas in them. I was inspired by Mario Puzo’s Godfather. First time here the author peeps into the life of the Mafia Family, wherein their human emotions were portrayed.

Your work may not guarantee success. It may come later or may not come ever. Don’t get disheartened by temporary failures. It will help improve you. Write for yourself and for your convictions. This activity should first make you happy. Love your job and the rest would be taken care of.

New words are coined every day; some old words are disappearing today to be replaced by words in vogue. As science and technology advances and lifestyles change, this is normal. New words spread like a fire. I would give you few examples: I can understand this; it is not a rocket science. Here, the person wants to say that ‘it is simple.’ Nowadays, the word “surgical strike” has been coined for measures/steps taken, inviting minimal damage and great results. I have wired the money to your account, here wired is an example of word emerging due to technology advancements. Master stroke, Game Changer is few other words describing the same thing. People like to use new, modern words; their affinity toward them is immense. So, my advice is use them if they serves the purpose but don’t fall in love with them.  Often overused words lose their attraction even if they are powerful words. Also, your words and sentences especially spoken by characters / persons in your story must match their personality, level of intelligence, background and their nature etc. The best you can do this is better for creating real scenes.  Your novel is a movie or drama less screen or stage or even sound. So, here it becomes a formidable task. You have only one tool and that is words. Through words you are going to pour emotions, describe events, transfer information and use your imaginations. Be the master of words. It is a fact that words govern the world. Outstanding leaders are able speakers, whether they are the heads of governments or corporations. Similarly a writer would do extremely well if he has plenty of words in his/her vocabulary and the ability to use words in a best way. Many cricketers hit ‘fours’ but that of Tendulkar’s is a treat to watch. Here, the elegance, style and ease with which he swings the bat are praiseworthy. If as a writer you have power words at your command you can give a tremendous impact to your sentences. Through them you can make someone’s day, you can make your readers cry with emotions. You can make them feel happiness. You can take them to the woods and on top of the mountains. Make them feel soft breeze there. Make them hear the sound of a flowing river. Make them feel the pains of your characters. Make them shiver when the snow is falling and cold harsh winds are blowing. If you can do this, you are a writer far above others.  Remember that writing is basically conveying what is in your mind to your reader. So a writer should not talk in French to a Bihari Babu. The language should be easy to understand keeping in mind the target audience.

Last but not the least be your own guide.    

Tips shared by Pradipkumar Raol,

Pradipkumar done B.E. civil, Msc. Physics and worked in Jamnagar Municipal Corporation as a Deputy Engineer. He has authored one book in gujarati Anthin Yatra . The english version The Endless Voyage is available on Amazon.com. His interests are philosophy, science and psychology. He believes in honesty, faith, love and fearlessness.

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