Sunday, August 12, 2007

E is for ENDING - ABCDEs of Writing (Part 5 of 5)

Yes, dear writer. Your piece will not be complete without an ending. You probably would hear this advice many times over as you write: Everything should have a beginning, a middle, and an end.

Once you've started, given the background, worked your way through the conflict of the piece in a dramatic way, arrived at the climax, and resolved loose ends - there is no other way to turn to but the end.

And, please remember that the end is what you will leave to your readers. Give them something to remember you by. Do not bore them with too much information, but don't leave them unsatisfied either. There's a fine line between these concepts. And yes, it might take some time to master it all in absolute perfection. But no matter how daunting it may be, just think -

"The point is to finish and go on to the next thing." - John Cheever

Creative Writing Project To Consider: 1) Look at your existing writing project. How do you craft its ending? Are you going to make it shocking, sad, happy...? Whatever you do, remember not to make it confusing. Tie up all loose ends! If you have a music box in the beginning of your story, make sure that music box plays on or before your story ends.

2) Now that you've reached the end of your piece, leave it alone for a little while. Then, get back to it to see what you can revise/edit.

3) In the spirit of "going on to the next thing" --- think of a new writing project now. What's your new story/poem/essay/article going to be all about?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

D is for DRAMA - ABCDEs of Writing (Part 4 of 5)

Whether you're actually writing something "dramatic" (be it sweet, tragic, or suspense) or something "comic", the element of drama is there. It has something to do with your approach to the subject. When we say begin with action then provide some background - these are all part of the dramatic approach.

But, what comes after background when you've articulated the conflict?

Well, next in line with the dramatic approach is to the climax. The climax is the highest point of your piece - the clues to who murdered who becomes clear, the philandering lover finally gets caught, etc. You write this in an escalating fashion to grip your readers.

Creative Writing Project Now, it's time for you to heighten the drama in your chosen piece of work. Highlight it and see how you can incorporate various techniques to make your piece more dramatic.

So now we reach -

Friday, August 10, 2007

C is for CONFLICT - ABCDEs of Writing (Part 3 of 5)

If you’re writing an article, there’s a different way of technically putting this in. But, you still have to think of conflict as you begin to write. Remember that the reason why you should be writing that article (other than the fact that you personally would like to share it), is that someone out there may need it. And, that need came out of a conflict. A personal longing for something new, something else, or something better.

It’s basically the same concept that goes with writing poems, essays, or stories. But, with these, instead of providing direct and practical answers to your readers’ conflicts (through the article), you “act out” a personal conflict (be it your own, or someone you know or think of in either real or fictional terms).

If there’s no “conflict”, there’s no story. Think of how boring a piece would be without any sort of problem or difficulty.

Conflicts may be “stated” or “acted out” at the beginning of the piece or at a later time. If you choose the latter, you must learn the art of foreshadowing (or being able to show “clues” to the problem or conflict right from the start).

More Creative Writing Projects So as you go back to your piece in focus (yep, the project you chose to work on), you must carefully articulate the main conflict. Why? As we said, no conflict, no story. This is the heartbeat of your work. Depending on your type of work, answer the following: * For Stories/Novels: 1) Who is your main character? 2) What does your character want/need? 3) Is there anyone who will help and/or detract your character from getting what he/she wants/needs? 4) How would your character get what he/she wants/ needs? * For Articles: 1) Who is your target reader and what is your article all about? 2) Why does your reader need to read your article? 3) What is your reader going to get out of reading your article? 4) What are your main points? * For Essays/Poetry: 1) What does your narrator/persona want/need to share? 2) What is your piece all about? 3) What is the resolution you intend to find by the end of the piece? Once you’re able to deal with the questions accordingly, you’d be able to articulate the conflict of your piece in your own terms. Decide then on what you want to do about it.

And then we go to our next point -

Thursday, August 9, 2007

B is for BACKGROUND - ABCDEs of Writing (Part 2 of 5)

After that initial hook, you can now try to help your reader to understand what's going on. This is a time when you can give the background. Why was there such a commotion in the first scene? What made you write that explosive sentence?

When you give the background, it's when you explain some information to your readers in order to 'reel them in' - once you've 'hooked' them. Just be careful not to explain too much. Give your explanations gradually, interspersed throughout your work. Try to find creative ways to give background other than through narrative. Include background in dialogues, scenic descriptions, anecdotes, character descriptions, and/or historic information.

Creative Writing Project to Consider: *Look at your manuscript. Read the first few sentences. What do you think is the background for what you've written? For example, can you explain why your character is so angry/sad/happy to start with?

*Some background ideas that you might want to think about: motivation, reasons/rationale, and personal history.

*Other than narrative, try to re-write your background in a different way (dialogue, scenic desciption, etc.)

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

A is for ACTION - ABCDEs of Writing (Part 1 of 5)

There are many ways to begin a written piece. And, one of the best ways to start is something I call "The Director Approach".

In this approach, you put on a director's cap. And, after you've conceptualised your story, poem, essay, or article, you turn off the 'editorial/critical lights' and turn on the 'creative lights'. You then start rolling the camera... and, you go to your pen and paper (or word processor) and say, "Action!"

Creative Writing Project to Consider

Check your file of manuscripts and choose which one you feel most passionate about. The one piece that you'd like to work on and zoom-in your 'camera' for focus. If you don't have a manuscript to work with yet, just start a piece. Any piece.

Okay, got that one? Great! Now you can try and fill-in the following:

Working (Tentative) Title (of your chosen piece):

Type of Project You Wish To Accomplish (Essay, Short Story, Memoir Piece, etc.):

Now that's settled, we focus on the beginning. Ask yourself if the current beginning of your work meets the essential "Action". How do you know? Well, try and ask these questions...

a) Do you have more internal wondering than actual scenes and dialogues? If yes, re-write(or cross out) those internal journeys and translate them in action.

b) Do you have more adjectives than verbs? Strike out the adjectives and work up the verbs.

c) Do you have a "hook" to start off your piece? Make sure to start with a dialogue, an unusual statement, a funny thought, or a shocking revelation. This how you begin with a great "hook" in your writing.