• A.S.Ford

The Fundamentals of Writing!

Hey there :) Today, I wanted to outline the basic essentials of writing.

Writing is known as a personal experience and journey for a writer until the final version is then shared with a community. Although this is true, and we are often encouraged to break literary boundaries and rules, there are still a number of 'fundamental' requirements that make a writer, and stories, what they are.

Arguably, one of these 'requirements' is the willingness to work hard at writing. Although writing can be hard work (mainly mentally) it still needs to be something you can enjoy and have fun with so, just like with most aspects in life, it needs balance. This 'balance' is defined by what kind of writer you wish to be. If you wish to make a career out of writing then, yes, a hard working ethic would be necessary, however, if you wish to write more as a hobby - perhaps, only posting a story on your blog once a month, for example, or writing with the intent of your work never being read - then you will only need to work as hard as you want to.

A second element to writing is an enthusiasm for reading. As the famous Stephen King once said, 'If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot'. It might sound cheesy or obvious but, speaking from my own experience and the experience of other writers I have met over the past 7 years, this theory really does hold water. I have often noticed that my writing greatly improves during period of times where I have made the time to read a lot more compared to times when I did not read much at all.

A third fundamental would be the ability to communicate and to do so well. and to do so well. Story telling is one of our most ancient forms of communication but if we forget to follow its conventions then the overall meaning of a story will be lost to its reader - something every writer dreads happening. This does not just pertain to grammar, spelling, punctuation, as well as clear and concise writing but also to making sure the context is there for the reader to pick up. Therefore, it is important to always answer the questions: WHO? WHAT? WHEN? WHERE? and WHY? throughout your narrative.

Then there are the other fundamental elements. I have noted down a brief definition for each one, for now, as I will be exploring each of these in more detail in their own posts later on:

STORY - A 'common definition of a story, one with an ancient tradition having been laid down by Aristotle in his Poetics (c. 335 BCE), is that a story is a piece of writing, 'a whole with a beginning, middle and end'.' Essentally, a series of events - either real or fictional - that follows some form of sequence that includes these three phases (though as we know from books, such as Time's Arrow by Martin Amis and Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, that stories do not have to follow such a linear narrative timeline).

NARRATIVE - A 'series of events to be told or written down which hook a reader.'

PLOT - The way in which the story is laid out. It is the outline for the narrative to follow and explains how the beginning, middle and end are all connected.

HOOK/TURN - 'They are what turn the story, make it unfamiliar and lift it from the ordinary [...] A 'turn' is an unexpected event or occurence that raises questions and hooks us.'

CHARACTERS - The puppets of your narrative. They are the entities - real or fictional - that experience all the events in your story first hand.

CONFLICT - 'Conflict generates energy, desire and trouble. Trouble is what we want and need our characters to face.'

VIEWPOINT/PERSPECTIVE - 'Deciding this is one of the most fundamental issues to be resolved in writing any story. The viewpoint character will be the person through whose eyes we, the reader or audience, experience the story.'

THEME - 'It is the idea, message or even moral of the story. Put simply it is what the story is about.'

GENRE - 'When people ask what genre of story it is, they mean what type is it? Is it a romance, a romantic comedy, a murder mystery, an historical story, a war story, or a children's story?' - other genres are available!

*All definitions in quotation marks taken from How to Craft A Great Story by Chris Sykes (2013 edition)*

Without the above fundamentals, creative writing would really struggle to exist in the way that we know it. Every element on earth has a base structure that it relies on at its core - humans and atoms, building and foundations, books and spines, trees and roots etc. etc. - and writing, or stories, are no different. Leave room to explore and experiment and defy the norm but remember to include the writing fundamentals to fully support your stories.

Join me next week to explore the letter B and interesting literary terms associated with it!

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