Writing Lessons v2

Level 9
Joined
Aug 23, 2007
Messages
465
Good Day and welcome to my second writing lessons. My first was a bit lack luster in terms of good information, I mainly scratched the surface with that set of lessons. Here I hope to go a little deeper on different topics and subjects to further develop a good lesson on writing.

Let's Begin...

In what ways can I write? -
For starters, never limit yourself to one type of writing. If you really want to understand the mechanics of writing and how to truly "write" then your going to want to branch out a bit and get your feet wet in multiple different kinds. This isn't only to find the type of writing you enjoy most, but to learn different techniques and styles which in the long run will help you in any kind of writing whether it be journalism, fictional writing, non-fiction, or any other.

Once you've found the style you like more than all others then settle down with it, practice writing pieces pertaining to it. If you happen to enjoy journalism then find say a current topic to write about, maybe find something going on in the world, your state, or your town and write an article for it. Maybe even try getting in with your local newspaper to write small articles now in then just to get some experience out in the world.
If you decide that you like writing fictional stories then, again, practice makes perfect. Never get discouraged if you read a truly great story, but when you try writing something you know it doesn't compare. Remember that truly great authors practice a lot and earn the talent they have. You'll have to work to truly become a great author.

Tip: When you do settle down with a style of writing, remember that studying others work is another great way to both inspire yourself and learn more of the writing genre. However their is a small draw back if you gain to much inspiration (possibly). If you read someones work that you just find amazing and you instantly strive to write like then, you may find yourself completely copying their style, in turn losing any true talent you could acquire yourself. Remember, being inspired by ones work is a great thing, but falling head over heals for it and choosing to write in the same way takes away your style and replaces it with a cheap copy of another's.


All writing professions provide different skills, so having a good knowledge of the skills and a basic understanding and use of them all can really provide you with a better understanding of whichever you choose to focus on.

One way to look at this is to think of school. When your teachers made you write those long essays, what did you do (or were supposed to do) when you researched your topic. You evaluated the information you gathered, organized it, and then proceeded to write it in an interesting and appealing manner. With those skills there you could easily apply them to other writing forms. Journalism for sure; gathering information, organizing it, and reporting it in a manner that others would be tempted to read it; fictional stories; finding ideas for your story, organizing either found or thought up ideas into a plan, and then turning the plan into a well written story.

Writing is done from day to day in so many different fashions. Many people today have published books, but are in a completely different career. If you love writing, but can't see yourself focusing on it as a career, then do something else! Writing doesn't have to be a career, it can be a hobby that you just so happen to be able to make a few bucks off of on the side. Just make sure you never settle with writing something you aren't happy with.

I want to write but the ideas aren't coming!
Often times I'll find myself sitting there and decide to write something on a whim. Well not always can your mind just say, I'll write about that, you'll need either inspiration or a little other help. Good thing is you can get inspiration anywhere.

If you find yourself outside, just look around you, at your surroundings. Write a short story of something that either has happened, is happening, or just some wild story from your mind. I believe it was Brian Jaques, the author of the Redwall series, who got the whole book series idea from just sitting in his garden? I'm not sure on that but its entirely possible if you allow your mind to be creative enough. I believe C.S. Lewis referred to the Mountains of Mourn and had said that at times he'd gaze upon the mountains and at any moment would feel a giant would rear it's head over the next ridge. That's where ideas come from, thinking in a way about normal things that most people wouldn't. This of course focuses mainly on fictional or creative writing as journalism and the like are more based on technical writing with less wiggle room for creativity.

If you just can't get the inspiration from trees by your house or the rocks in your driveway, you can always look at stuff on the internet. There are plenty of sites where you'll find prompts to write stories on. Whether or not you like them, they always make good practice. For a budding journalist you can find local news events to write on or local world ones, hell if you still want to use your creativity, write a news article on a past event. Writers Digest and Creative Writing Prompts can provide you with some interesting and quick ideas on things to write about. Using the internet for pictures of animals, places, and things can help you fully describe something in your writing. I've used the internet to find names for characters, places, and even to look at maps to help me better visualize a place or world in my mind.

Tip: Another thing that I love doing along side my writing is world building, which I'll cover later. When you do something like this which requires a large amount of raw ideas to be strewn together to create a world, or just a story for that matter, you may need other resources other than just your creativity. You can sit around all day long thinking up names for your characters like Jargilbons and Harishmort, but you'll want to draw the line at some point, unless you can come up with names easily or your story calls for ridiculous names. A resource I've found recently that I hadn't thought of before is a baby name book. I got one from my local library which had a large amount of male and female names which had both the meaning of the name but the ethnicity the name originated from. Being able to get a quick look at some old English names and Celtic names can make coming up with characters pretty easy.


Again this can bring me back to other great authors. When you think of Tolkien and all of the work he put into Middle-Earth, you have to wonder where all of the ideas came from. When you do a little research on him, it's known that he studied a lot of mythology, and that's where a lot of the ideas for much of his work came from. Aside from that he used his purely creative mind to create an extensive world around the ideas he developed from study, again bringing us to the essays in grade school.

Tip:
Other writers work is also a great resource to get ideas from. I can't read Tolkien's work without thinking of my own ideas. Reading something creative can truly get you thinking. You can't tell me that if you read the beginning of the Silmarllion that you didn't get ideas.
Example: In the beginning of Middle-Earth's creation, there was the first great power or god and he created, from his thought, a group of holy beings. Then through the use of song, the world was created, as was the personalities of the holy ones.

More to come ^^
 
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Level 12
Joined
Jan 30, 2009
Messages
1,067
I'd simply like to add to this. Reading and writing aren't the only ways to get ideas. Try watching a foreign film.Maybe listen to a new band, or even a whole new genre of music altogether. Or playing a new video game (or wc3 map!) for example, and let the ideas wash over you. Those are a huge source of my ideas. It's why my writing draws a lot on Japanese themes, cause I draw a lot of inspiration from the hundreds of animes I've watched over the years. And I absolutely love Japan. :)

I'd like to say one more thing. I love Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time novels, but I also love James Patterson's Alex Cross novels. Two very VERY different people, and large difference in style. There's even a lot of difference in the amount, and kinds of description used between them. This is in part due to their individual personae, and also partly because of the varying genres. But, the biggest difference I've noticed is chapter length. Robert Jordan (And Brandon Sanderson, too) have chapters that often reach or succeed 100 pages, whereas James Patterson, in a majority of the books of his (which is almost all of them), there's at LEAST one instance where you will turn a page, and see two new chapters staring at you. Finish chapter 113, turn the page and you see 114 on the left, and 115 on the right.

The reason I mention this is because your style of writing can largely play on your chapter length. I personally like shorter chapters. For writing and reading. When I write a short story, it's usually around 5-10 pages (in Word, 10px, single space), and my chapters of my longer stories are usually around that as well. Keep that in mind, and don't feel you are to be bound by conventional methods or boundaries.

Wow, that got quite lengthy. I ramble too much, sorry! This is an example of letting the ideas flow, since I originally meant to simply list some other sources of ideas.
 
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Level 9
Joined
Aug 23, 2007
Messages
465
Thanks guys for the feedback. and Vizel thanks I'll have to add that to the examples. I hope to update this a bit later on just swamped with school right now and don't have much time to think about this much more. I'm taking English 101 right now though so hopefully I can add a bit more info and strategies that I learn this quarter.

Thanks.
 
Level 12
Joined
Jan 30, 2009
Messages
1,067
Yeah, I haven't been in school for about 2 years now, I'm getting rusty myself.

Next semester though.
 
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