Malik Sharrieff

3 Steps to Supercharge your Writing

Amateur writers write for the sake of writing. While this may create copious amounts of inconsequential content or provide them personal pleasure, it does nothing to increase business prospects, improve the world, or move their audience to take action.

So what is the goal of great writing, and how can it change your work?

Professional writers always have one main goal in mind with everything they write: to transform their audience. Great writers strive to help their audience see through different eyes, act differently, change the way they interact with the world.

Anyone can throw words together and make complete sentences, but if you want to actually have impact through your writing, you must learn to write for transformation. It’s the difference between being merely informative and being compelling and persuasive. There are three simple steps to transformational writing:

  • Writing for a specific audience,
  • Using the right venue, and
  • Choosing and executing the right type of transformation (there are three).

 

1. Specific Audience

If you want to reach your audience, it’s absolutely crucial that you understand them, get out of your own perspective, and write to their perspective. One of the first things I advise new writers is to identify your target audience, things such as age, gender, race/ethnicity, location, income level, purchasing habits, hobbies, talents, interests, etc.

When you know who you are talking to, then you’re prepared to custom tailor the message to resonate with them specifically. For example, words such as “revolutionary,” “cutting-edge,” “fresh,” or “trendy,” will more likely resonate with an 18-25 age group, whereas a 60-70 age group will probably have negative reactions to them, who prefer things that are “proven,” “safe,” and “sensible.”

2. The Right Venue

By venue I mean the medium used to convey your message, including such things as magazines, newspapers, journals, books, radio and TV ads, blogs, websites, etc. The venue you choose is, in large part, determined by your audience.

For example, if you are writing a lengthy article on monetary policy intended for scholars and economists, the best venue is probably a scholarly journal. Few people can stand to read long blocks of meaningful text on a computer screen, I probably won’t have enough space to make my case in most magazines, etc. On the other hand, if my content is concise, simple, and intended for a broad audience, perhaps an e-zine or blog article makes sense.

All of us are exposed to written communications that we skim or ignore, yet if that same message is presented in a venue more palatable to us, we’re much more likely to spend time reading it. Writing for transformation requires utilizing the best venue for our subject matter and audience.

3. The Right Transformation

There are three types of transformations: know, feel, and do.

A know transformation seeks to give the readers new information, or old information arranged in a different way, to help them to learn and know things they didn’t know before, in such a way that changes their life and perspective. A feel transformation obviously seeks to evoke strong emotion in the audience, while a do is designed to get an audience to take very specific, immediate, and tangible action.

Amateurs look at this list and try to do all three; professionals focus on one and nail it, because doing so affects the others. How do you want people’s lives to change because they read your message? What do you want to see occur in them? Do you primarily want them to know, feel, or do something? Pick one–yes, just one–and execute it well, and the others will take care of themselves.

If you want your message to actually have impact, you must learn to write for transformation. Know who you’re writing to, use the right venue to reach them, and choose the right transformation and execute it well. After all, transformational writing is the only writing worth reading.

Feel free to comment or ask questions below, or discuss your past publishing plan(s).

Until next time, keep writing!

~Malik

P.S.:

If you have any questions, shoot us a note at the contact us page.

Malik Sharrieff

How to Write a Short Story

Writing a story is not easy. Like the drama or the poem, it is imaginative literature that should appeal to the emotions of the readers. Since it communicates the writer’s interpretation of reality, there must be an artistic use of language to signify human experience. But how do we write a great short story? What are the things to keep in mind in order to come up with a short story that works and entices the reader to become a fan of our larger works? Here’s a quick guide to get you started:

  1. Read

Reading is essential to anyone who wants to write. In order to be able to write a good short story, you must read other short stories first. This will not only give you the motivation and inspiration for your own story, but it will also help you learn how other authors made an impression on the reader and use their style as basis to create your own style and impression.

  1. Get inspired

For seasoned professionals, there is no need to obtain inspiration because thoughts naturally flow and they only have to put them into words on paper. But for novice writers, it is important to have a means or method to get inspired because it will not only help you begin your first paragraph but also keep you going throughout the entire effort. Your inspiration may take the form of an object, a person, or an event that you just can’t seem to forget.

I have written several short stories by dropping experiences that I’ve shared with my sons into a fantasy environment and just letting the story grow organically.

  1. Conceptualize your story

Think of something you want to talk about with your readers. Let’s say you want to relate a story about a couple who fell in love with each other. What about the couple? What is it about them that you are interested to let your readers know? Focus on this idea and think of other concepts that you want to associate with this couple.

Suppose the girl’s parents disapproved of their relationship. What about the parents? What did they do to stop the two from loving each other? This could signal a good beginning for your story. From here, you would have the story concept that evolves into a fulfilling experience for the reader.

  1. Map out the scenes

In order to keep your writing aligned with your pre-conceived story events, it is good to briefly map out scenes of your story on a different piece of paper. Write down the possible characters of your story and list the main events in order. You don’t have to put so much detail on them because this only serves as a rough sketch of how your story to flow.

  1. Choose your point of view

Who tells the story and how it is told is very critical for a short story to be effective. The point of view can change the feel and tone of the story radically. Hence, you must decide carefully before finally resolving with the angle of vision to use for your story. But whatever it is you decide to choose as the point of view, make sure it stays constant throughout your story to maintain consistency.

An inability to maintain a consistent POV throughout your story is a excellent way to get rejected by a publisher. (Read that again!)

  1. Conceive your characters

For a short story, create a maximum of only three main characters. Too many main characters will make your story confusing since each new character will provide a new dimension for the story. Each character should be more than cardboard caricatures. Make your characters speak naturally in proportion with their traits. Make them believable but mysterious.

Your characters should resonate with your target readers. Make them believable and compelling, especially if you feature these characters in your larger works. Your short stories are an excellent way to drive readers to your novel length projects.

  1. Furnish a good introduction

When you have everything planned out, start scribbling your first paragraph. Introduce your main characters and set out the scene. The scene must be some place you know much about so that you’d be able to supply the necessary snapshot for a clearly described setting. Make your introduction interesting to hold the reader’s interest and encourage them to read on to the end. It is also important to hold back significant details and the greater part of the action at this point so the mystery is kept.

  1. Build up a great plot

From your introduction, draw out events that will eventually create a problem or a conflict for the main character/characters. After that, begin laying out an array of clues to keep the reader interested, intrigued and guessing. Intensify the conflict as the story moves forward. This will not only make your reader enthused to read more but will also keep them riveted to your story.

  1. Show, don’t tell

The characters should be the ones responsible for expressing the story through their actions and dialogue and not the writer telling the reader what is being expressed. Rather than saying, “Annette was really mad at her best friend Christina for stealing her boyfriend”, say “Annette felt an ache in her stomach and a strong pang of betrayal as Christina approached her and flashed her with a sweet smile. She breathed hard trying to calm herself as she speaks with suppressed anger: “I hope you’re happy now that you’ve proven what type of friend you really are.”

  1. Use active verbs

Put as much life into your story as you can. In order to do this, employ verbs in the active voice in your story. Instead of saying, “The flower was picked by Johanna”, say “Johanna picked the flower.”

  1. Use dialogue every now and then

Dialogue is important in bringing your story to life. Don’t just use it to pad out your characters. Use it to convey your character to identify with the reader. Use it in direct quotes like, “Go there!” instead of indirect quotes as, “She told him to go there.”

  1. Keep references handy

A good reference such as a thesaurus or a dictionary is crucial in creating a good story. You can use them to check your spellings and to find the words which best fit your description. Instead of using one lengthy sentence or paragraph, you can use one or just a few words to convey what you want to say. Often, one strong word has a greater effect than a paragraph full of fancy language.

  1. Conclude briefly

Conclusions are tough sledding. For a good ending, it is advisable to experiment and to add a little twist. Make your ending unique but not hanging in a loose end. Make it satisfying without making it too predictable. Keep in mind to keep it short but concise and lingering so that the reader is left with a feeling of resonance. Your conclusion should wrap up everything from start to finish.

  1. Edit and revise

After fashioning the last words of your story, it is time to begin the editing cycle. Carefully go through your work and fix all your mistakes regarding sentence construction, word usage, formatting. Punctuation marks, diction, spelling, grammar, and descriptive analysis. Scratch out words, phrases and even paragraphs which don’t seem to contribute to the basic elements of the story.  After you’re done, let it sit for a while; days or even weeks, then edit it again. Reread your story over and over again at different occasions. This will make you see various things you may want to change to make your story shine at its best.

  1. Let others proof read

Have your friends or members of your support team take a look at your work. They may just be able to see mistakes which you have missed. For instance, they may be distracted with some words or lines which you adore dearly. In this case, you have to decide on changing it or cutting it off completely.

With some knowledge on the basic elements and some passion and patience, it’s much easier to pull together a story with just a few ideas. Just keep in mind that you’re writing not because you have to, but because you want to. Keep your passion level high!

Feel free to comment or ask questions below, or discuss your short story writing strategies.

Until next time, keep writing!

~Malik

P.S.:

If you have any questions, shoot us a note at the contact us page.

Malik Sharrieff

Writing Effective Fiction

Fiction writing

Fiction is writing that includes imaginary characters, events and/or settings created by the writer. A fiction writer should be an extensive reader. The writer must read fiction not only from the type he/she prefers to write, but also the types in which he/she has not explored.

Types of Fiction Writing

Traditionally there are two types of fiction writing:

Category– It’s also referred as ‘genre’, and in this type of stories we can categorize distinct themes in fiction. Examples are: science, westerns, adventure, historical, romance, erotica, suspense, fantasy, mystery, and war stories.

Mainstream-These stories are aimed at the widest possible audience and typically deal with most aspects of modern life including relationships, careers, and the search for success and fulfillment.

Elements of effective fiction writing:

Theme – Theme is the main idea or meaning behind a story. It is a theoretical refinement of the story. A clear theme makes a story successful.

Characters – Characters are the main effective elements in any story. Most stories consist of experience or events of people and some consists of animals, spirits or even inanimate objects. Each new character adds a new dimension to the story, so characters should be introduced early in the story. The more often a character is mentioned or appears the more significance the reader will attach to the character.

Plot – Plot is the skeleton form of a story that holds the entire story together. It is the related series of events that are arranged to form a story. It usually consists of a conflict, climax and resolution. The plot also may include subplots that are part of or subordinate to the main plot. The plots and subplots are broken into scenes, which are pieces of the story showing the action of one event.

Setting – It includes the place and time in which the story takes place. The setting should be described in specifics to make the story seems real. The setting of the story should have atmosphere, mood and the limitations on the characters.

Style – Style is the writer’s use of the language. A clear, concise and precise writing attracts the reader. A combination of good story and good writing makes a fiction writer successful.

Dialogue – The dialogue is the speech of characters. The form of dialogue should be varied to keep the reader interested. Dialogue should be used to develop character or to advance the story.

These elements provide writers with a standard guideline and sense of organization in their fiction. Fiction writers utilize these elements to effect their readers’ perceptions of their writing.

Improve your skills

Fiction writing ability does not come naturally to everyone. Fiction writing can be a difficult career.  It requires hard work with an emphasis on creativity, hours of revision and editing before completing a manuscript. But the act of creating great works of fiction can have many unexpected rewards.

Fiction writing helps to develop:
  • Creativity and Sense of Imagination
  • Writing Talent
  • Networking
  • Self-promotion
  • Working Individually
  • Determination and Competitive Nature

Feel free to comment or ask questions below, or discuss what well written fiction looks like to you.

Until next time, keep writing!

~Malik

P.S.:

If you have any questions, shoot us a note at the contact us page.

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