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How to be a Good Story Writer !

Posted by rajasirji on October 18, 2009 at 11:35 PM

Raja Sharma (Age: 47)

copyright 08-28-2008

Values are given words and words are shared with thereaders who try to get nearer to the values conveyed by the writer.Though I have taught Literature for more than two decades, I had nevergiven importance to the fact how much others can benefit from myexperience. Then came a prophet, Mr. Walter L Jones, and everythingchanged for me.

A huge majority of the writers are often trapped by an illusionthat structure is their ultimate goal while writing a story. Structureis a kind of God to them. Undoubtedly, structure is an inevitablyimportant part of your story but it might as well destroy story ifexcessive attention is paid to it.

There is no dearth of hit movies and novels in the markets floodedwith new releases. They seem to be fulfilling all the requirements ofstory but I feel that they seem to be contrived, uninspired andlifeless and one can feel that the writer has moved with a plan.

These kinds of writers are merely mechanics who assemble thedifferent parts. Some linguists call them Story Mechanics. They planthe structure, syntax, length and so on and according to theprescriptive requirements contrive a story. It looks like a fancy paintjob. Many of the Great Masters like D.H.Lawrence, Thomas Hardy,Stevenson, Dickens, Rudyard Kipling had perhaps never heard about theblueprints, plan, sentence arrangement because they were guided by thevalues they had in mind. They were the writers who could be calledStory Weavers. Such writers begin with subjects or concepts they arepassionate about and the structure draws its form from the material.Their characters are people before they become characters. In theirstories events take place first and then they become a plot. They keepvalues before theme and a genre is secondary to a world they develop.

I will call these writers Storytellers or Story Weavers. Theirstories have the power to captivate the mind and the fullness of humanemotion. The spontaneity guides them through their story to make itinvolving, engrossing and mind arresting. They take you along in theirworld of values and emotions.

Shall we start now?

To my students I tell not to think about structure for the timebeing. Forget about characters, plot, theme, genre, etc. First of alltry to draw an inspiration and then develop it. Next comes expositionand finally the act of storytelling.

Your inspiration can emanate from many sources: it can be anoverheard conversation, a story written by somebody else, a newspaperarticle, a journey, a place, a real life character, an event, or anencounter, etc.

First of all a suitable environment is needed. Some writers prefera secluded place and some write while listening to music. It is yourpersonal choice and to suit your mood you should find or create theenvironment. The compromise with it may not be what you want. Tools maybe chosen according to the availability or your preference. Keep onething in mind that any creative art ought to be , by necessity,performed in seclusion, for many geniuses will come in between tocomment upon the incomplete work and as a result depress the writer.

Developing the story is the second stage.

Now you try to populate the story with the people you want to keepin. Don't ever think about the end product. write a few lines about allthe characters and what they are going to do in your story or what isgoing to happen to them in your story. Forget about style, diction,length, etc. because they will take care of themselves as you movealong.

Generally, a good exposition can tell people what the story isabout. It is the writer's choice whether he wants to give hints aboutthe characters or expose them with the progression of his story. Insome cases you will have to be careful about the exposition because thetarget group of readers may not be as well equipped in their receptionas you might think. EXPOSITION if handled properly can add to thestrength of the main story.

Storytelling should begin as casually as opening a packet ofcigarettes or waving a hand to a passing friend. Start writing as ifeverything is happening in front of your eyes. Sometimes, it happensthat a writer is spellbound by the grandeur of a sentence that he orshe has written but immediately after that the pen stops moving becausethe power of the preceding sentence frightens the writer and he istrapped in the comparisons whether he or she should try to maintain thestandard of the preceding sentence or write naturally. Don't ever fallinto such traps because they will take you deeper into the structuralmaze and your story will be comprehensible only to you or a few cursedsouls who might try to find out what you are trying to say. One or twoamazing complex sentences can prove to be an icing on the cake but ifyou try to make the whole cake like that it might be nothing more thana big lump of sugar.

The final point is to reread and rewrite what you have written. Insome cases editing by a better qualified person may be helpful but ifyou are sure that your words are deliberately arranged by you to conveya particular meaning or sense, then don't go for it. Spellings, spacingand other formalities can be performed by any editing software or by alearned person. In some cases your distorted grammar is the requirementof the story. My main objective in writing this paper is to convey aclear message to the writers or the aspiring writers to start writingwith a deaf ear to reviewers or critics because I have concluded that"A critic or a reviewer is a creature who tells a writer what you havewritten." Though he or she as a critic or a reviewer might be milesaway from the reality. Don't laugh! I also tell the writers what theyhave written.

Raja sir



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