by Rachel Kabongo, Age 14, Canada
Writing basics. I had to learn them all by myself through trial, error…and oftentimes Google. If you’re still in the learning phase, remember that no one can write exactly like someone else—believe me, I’ve tried—and finding your voice isn’t as hard as you think. Just look through your diary or journal; read emails and letters you’ve sent. This is how you write when you aren’t worrying about fitting into a mould. Your prose should sound like you do when you write without being pressured.
Here are a few more basic tips to help you hone your skills.
Don’t be afraid to experiment.
Write a story. Let it simmer. Come back to it and change things up. Point of View. Characters. Dialogue. Repeat with the revised text. Whatever the result, be sure to make your readers stop and think about how your point came across.Make them wonder how you did what you just did. Dazzle them.
Find the time to write.
If you’re serious about this, you’ll need to be writing at least an hour a day. Better yet, break up that hour and scatter it throughout the day. Writing, along with almost everything else, is about practice and patience.
Inspiration becomes art. Search for it where others haven’t. Take a stroll downtown. Look around. Notice people. Create a past for them. Create a future, family, friends, and struggles. Writer’s block? Walk a block.
Sure, we all love Stephen King and J. K. Rowling, and who hasn’t read a good book and thought, “I wish I could write like that”? Well, you can’t. You can only write like you. Which begs the question: “How do you make sure that your writing is unique?” Not everyone’s prose is one of a kind. So, instead of being bent on standing out, which isn’t always possible, try being true to yourself.
Your most reliable way of doing this is using instinct. Be the reader. If something doesn’t sound right, change the phrasing. If something really doesn’t sound right, cut it. Not everyone can smack a reader in the face with originality, but if you stay you, it’s as good a start as any. Who knows? People might like you better. You should never give up on a story because it didn’t come out right on the first try.
Don’t stress. The rest always follows.
Details will fall into place on their own, so don’t worry about them! You’ll just clog your brain with anxieties, and then how will you think? Let your story flow naturally. It should be guiding you, instead of the other way around. Although some planning is necessary, you shouldn’t rely on it too much. Your author’s gut will show you the way if you let it.
Got it? Good. Now write.
Rachel Kabongo is a 14 year old Canadian writer. Rachel says, “My dream is to be a published author. I am almost through my first novel, The Lost Quarter, and a sequel and third book are in the works. I have successfully auditioned for my school’s writing program and am very excited that I will be joining next year. I have written over half a dozen short stories and have many more ideas that I would like to expand on.”