When you look at your schedule and see that you have Creative Writing, you groan. When you have to do a 2000-word essay for homework, your instinct is to scream in fury. When the teacher comes into the classroom one day, happily announcing that you’ll be doing a writing project, everyone says, ‘Not again!’
Admit it. You’ve done this before. Now before I shower you with guilt, let me introduce you to the world of writing – how writing can easily become fun and move people in ways you can never imagine.
Now this is the point where you look at me with wide, disbelieving eyes. Yes, writing is fun. For a lot of writers, writing is an outlet, something they can escape into their own world from their mundane lives. For those of you who have always hated writing, try sacrificing a weekend and write a short story about something that you’re interested in. Try writing it in your favourite genre – dystopia, romance, fantasy, anything. You’ll find out that you can’t stop.
To create a good piece of writing, the author needs to understand the topic. The story will easily go off-topic and become uninteresting if no background information is provided. For me, I tend to write every piece of writing in a special cultural background – that’s a way to keep your story special, exotic and interesting, and most importantly keep yourself interested.
Remember, it’s mandatory to do enough research before setting a story in a different cultural background. You don’t want to say that you used Australian Dollars in India. Which is not impossible, just not convincing enough. Remember that the culture and the historical background shapes the story, and the story itself revolves around it.
Brainstorm about your ideas in your free time. It’s fun. Plan your story during you’re riding the bus to school, and once you get a pen and a notepad, scribble it down. The last thing you need is to lose precious ideas. If you find it hard to brainstorm ideas, I suggest that every time when you go on the streets, try to observe.
Try to get ideas out of your daily lives. Look at any random person on the street and make them a story. Or, when you’re done looking at every person and making him or her a story, try making yourself a story. Put yourself as the main character, and you’ll find that there are many aspects of your life that you’ve never noticed before. Maybe you’ll complain, ‘But I’m just another ordinary person! I have nothing good to write about. That’s not true. Everyone must have certain experiences that are exclusive to him or her. Writing helps you discover yourself.
It’s very important to revise your writing and use better vocabulary; words that fit nicely into the setting. For example, you would want to describe the broken spider’s web on the corner of the ceiling or the children’s graffiti on the wall with peeled paint when the setting is in an untidy place where lower-class people live. Consider your first product a draft, and write another one, deleting excess information and adding new ideas. Ernest Hemingway once said, ‘The first draft of everything is shit.’ Of course, this is not to discourage you and to tell you that your first draft isn’t worth it- but when writing a story, be honest with yourself. Good enough, it’s okay or it’s acceptable is a hint for you that your story needs to be revised.
Try connecting your story to the target audience. Write something that inspires them. Remember, good writing is inspirational. Often you pick up a book, and put it down when you’re halfway through, because you find out that you cannot understand the characters or whatever they’re thinking. You just can’t make a connection between them and yourself. Remember, when writing, stand in the position of the reader and ask yourself these questions: Does anything in this story remind you of anything in your own life? Does it motivate you to do anything? What are you trying to say in your story? Can people empathize with your main character?
One universally-recognized inspirational book is The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It might be your set reader this term, but have you ever realized how, in the time that it was written, reflected people’s lives and how it connected with its readers? As it was written before the Great Depression, it reflected how people’s lives consisted of only two things: Stocks and Material. It showed how materialism shaped the world then – and continue to affect us now.
One of The Great Gatsby’s biggest fans, Japanese author of Norwegian Woods Murakami Haruki, said that The Great Gatsby is a rare novel that made us think about the meaning and origin of each scene as if they’re happening in our own lives. And that is why we love inspirational writing so much – every time we see the character, instead of seeing them, we see us. We’re reflected in the story. People love seeing writing that they can connect to. Try doing that and you’ll see that a good piece of writing can move the audience in ways you can never imagine.
Next time when you hear people groan about the essay they’ll have to do, or complain about how boring their Creative Writing lessons are, answer them by saying, ‘Writing? It’s no big deal.’ You’ll be amazed with what writing does to your lives – you learn to observe people’s actions, you learn about different cultures and behaviours, and most of all, you learn how to connect with people and get people inspired. Remember: A good piece of writing is always inspirational.
By Karen Sum Yi Leung
City: Hong Kong