Author of Soul Therapy, a Game of Intuition
Consider taking on the task of writing an essay using a limited number of words, say 700 words for instance. Maybe it’s a contest about writing well. The rules are quite clear and concise. Then there are the other rules, you know, the “rules of thumb”; Know something about what you are writing about, forget about any limitations regarding the word count, and edit, edit, edit.
The first rule of thumb is to know something about what you are writing about. Do your research. Research is vital to a good story. You must have some knowledge or personal experience to draw from when searching for the right words to use which might convey an idea, or factually report on the truth as you see it. If you’ve decided to write something which you’re intending to express your personal point of view, your experience or knowledge regarding the subject could make you an expert even if after doing the research and acquainting yourself with the facts you honestly choose to base your opinions on emotional rather than a rational point of reasoning.
The second rule of thumb is to forget about any limitations regarding the number of words or even how you express yourself. Write three times the number of words you need. Just do it. Just start and keep going until you have nothing left to say on the subject or you think you have come to the end of the story. This is the easy part. Pour yourself out onto the page.
The third rule of thumb is edit, edit and edit again. Make sure you fully understand that after all the editing you do before you submit your article or manuscript it is possible that it will get edited yet again. Do not take this personal. I liken it to raising a child; it takes a village.
A really good story has a beginning that hooks you with a promise to give you more and take you on an adventure in your mind. The middle is important keeping your interest, imparting integral information leading you to anticipate the end or to discover what happens next. The middle supports the beginning and prepares you for the possible outcome. The ending must culminate in tying all the loose threads together in a way that makes sense so as to elicit a specific response or inform the reader. Your story must come full circle, happy ending or not. It must make sense no matter how outrageous the tale. In the end even the most outrageous tale must be based on the possibility of reality.
I read somewhere that it’s not what a book says that makes it important or a good read but what a book does, meaning it’s what happens in the mind of the reader as a result of the reading. The question to ask yourself is; how does it make you feel or what do you think about what you just read?
A good story for me is when I am totally enthralled with what I am writing about at that moment so I can truly say I liked it while I was writing it. I liked it even better all through the editing phase making the necessary changes and when, after taking a deep breath, it was finally completed, finished, done, I still liked it. I liked it when I read it again and I liked it best while reading it out loud to my friends who are used to me using them as my personal sounding boards and research/feedback machines, and they all liked it too. And, alas, after reading it again to myself for the umpteenth time before submission, I still love the topic, I’m happy with the flow and the sentiment I was able to impart, well then, I know I’ve done my best and in my mind It’s a job well done.
That being said, there are other things to consider while honing your craft such as the proper use of the English language, grammar, spelling and punctuation. Motivation can be a double edge sword. It’s an essential tool to have in your arsenal but if you can’t find it, we call that writers’ block. Personal responsibility how you convey the sharing of words reveals your authentic self and gives you your voice. Your words can denote a tone which translates a feeling while describing a scene in delectable detail. In turn a truth is revealed, an idea conveyed or an emotion has been evoked. What else can you ask of a good read?
By Jean Quintana