I’m not sure how I stumbled upon Raimey Gallant’s website and the #AuthorToolboxBlogHop, but I’m glad I did, as I’ve been reading and learning a lot from the talented participants of this hop.
Let me begin by introducing myself as I’m new to this group. I am based in New Delhi, India and I’m a lawyer by profession. A few years ago, I took an extended break from the legal field, and began writing a blog since I had always loved writing. However, before beginning my writing journey, I took a Creative Writing class, because I’ve always believed that education is essential for success in any field.
I joined the blogging community 2.5 years ago, and soon realised that most Indian bloggers had no training as writers. In fact, many could not even string a sentence together in English, which ironically was their chosen language to write in.
Recently, many bloggers released their e-books during an India-specific publishing festival organised by the peer support group, Blogchatter. A few of these new authors reached out to me to review their books, as that would help spread the word.
I’d like to focus on one person’s book in this post because unlike the others in our indigenous community, he writes well. He has a good command of English, both in terms of correct grammatical usage as well as an impressive vocabulary. Hence, I was surprised that his short stories left me absolutely cold as a reader.
It may sound strange, but up until that point I had thought a person who writes ‘language’ well has what it takes to write a good book. Now, I’ve realised that is simply not true.
Writing a good book requires two distinct set of skills: the ability to write an engaging story with believable characters that strike a chord with readers; and the correct language skills to write it in. One can do without the latter if they have a good editor, but one cannot write a good book without the former.
I advised my blogger friend to take a course in creative writing so he could understand and work on certain basic principles:
- The plot must be unique and engaging. It must be developed at a steady pace and not feel rushed or too slow
- The characters need to be developed, so the reader is interested in their stories
- The stories may be inspired by existing ones, but they should never feel boring or derivative
- Short stories are particularly difficult because each one needs to be distinct from the others, yet equal in impact
- Every good story has a ‘soul’ or a ‘feeling’. A creative writing course can’t teach you how to infuse that but if you’re an avid reader, you’ll know what a story lacks
At this juncture, a disclaimer is necessary. I have only one published work to my name, which is a collection of my travelogues. Though I have written numerous short stories on my blog, the novel in my head remains in planning stages.
Despite my inexperience, I know that education sets a bad writer apart from a good one. If like me, you aspire to write a bestseller someday, invest in educating yourself first.
I hope you found this post useful. If you did, please let me know in the comments below. Also, give me that much-needed boost so I can begin writing that novel soon!
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