Some hints about the way to improve your writing
|A week last Tuesday, I went on a walking spree with a couple of fellow teachers, Given that they appear to be interested in my occupation, past and present, as a writer, they were almost bombarding me with questions about the subject and what is involved when writing a book or a short story.
I said, as it's a very flexible task, there's no right or wrong way to do it. An author of the 1920's, E.B. White, put it like this: 'writing is as much about editing as it is about writing.' Meaning, get it all down first where you can afford to make as many blunders as you may as long as you know that a meticulous tidy-up job is required: spelling and consistent grammar, adding, subtracting, tweaking like decorating or dressing a doll. So, you need to edit, edit, edit and keep on editing until whatever it is your writing is as perfect as it's going to get short of having it read by a beta reader or looked over by an editor, professional or otherwise. Writing isn't like putting paint on canvas: when you make a difficult mistake it becomes difficult to correct. Of course, in White's day, writers most likely would have been snowed under with sheaves of papers spotted with annotated corrections. These days using a computer or writing on an online site such as this makes it much more easier, uncluttered and better.
Another way is to immerse yourself in the written word as much as possible, meaning to take the chance to read as much prose if writing prose is your thing - and not just contemporary fiction but a whole host of writing styles, distant past, past and present. Then you can glean a comprehensive sense about what is involved in writing a good plot, a good story line, getting the story right, dialogues and their action and interactive layout, beats; whose attributed to who said what, sentence style and variety, and so on. If you're not in the mood to write yourself, indulging in a good read is an excellent way to take a chance and to kill time. Some people nowadays, unfortunately, think reading is boring. Such a fixed attitude or impression only goes to show the art of self-indulgence has been lost by some and doesn't need to be that complicated.
Having a fertile imagination and writing directly from experience is another asset. If you're interested in writing the historical genre or a thriller, picking up things from a TV series, a movie, or from a novel, is also a great way. For example, if I wanted to write a novel about post-Victorian London or England or what the culture there was like during the 1920's, what better way than to watch a TV period drama series such as 'Upstairs Downstairs' done during the early 1970's. As the series was carefully researched, crafted and corrected, what better way than to glean ideas such as plot, characterization, the spoken word and how, for example, the ruling and lower classes behaved themselves during the decade following World War One, for example, and how they were influenced by a cultural pattern or shift due to the impact of the great conflict.
Finally, the most important ingredient of all is dedication. I've had several spells when I've lost the enthusiasm to write. Without motivation, there's very little or no point in continuing with the occupation and that also involves worrying or obsessing about how many sales your book is making and how much of an audience your writing is getting. This, in my view, will only destroy your writing enjoyment. About three years ago, I entered eight stories for a competition on Goodreads. Despite following the rules and thinking the stories were good, and thinking one of them was bound to be accepted, not one of them was.The panelists either didn't like my style or the subjects, etc. Having been a judge in several speech competitions, I well know how adjudication can be subjective and a subjective occasion at that. But you neither want to be put off or deflected from what can otherwise be an enjoyable art or skill.
The important thing is to not give to up and to keep on writing.
I'm glad my writing does show talent and promise. Despite those multiple rejections, I recently got a story published online by the Berlin Literary Review. It's called 'Washed Up.' You can read it here. https://theberlinliteraryreview.com/david-butterworth-washed-up/
And they're willing to publish more stories.