Monday, 14 May 2012

Rules for Writing

Creative Writing: The Rules that Hold & Bind

I am a little-known writer; a tiny speck of invisible dust in the void of the cosmos. Mostly, I scribble pieces of poetry and prose. My first published work was a volume of poetry which is no longer available for purchase. My books of prose include Out of Kathmandu, a volume of stories and Ripheart Mountains, a full-length work of fiction, or a novel. My new volume of short stories, Daughter of a Watermill has also been published recently. It is my second volume of stories to be published. (For details about these books, please visit )

Although I read voraciously and write when the urge seizes me, I have found that no set of rules applies for all individuals and all works of writing equally the same. From my own experience, here are the rules that I have found to work for me and my writings. Perhaps some of these will also work for you, and yours?

1. Each piece of writing is unique and it demands a unique way of dealing from beginning to finish, if it is to be given the full justice it so much deserves. So, the first rule: develop and define your own rule for the writing, for the story, at hand. The rule has to be the one which best suits your purpose.

2. Writing demands a lot of concentration, a lot of time, a lot of creativity, a lot of research, a good story, a good vision and a lot of courage for it to mature and to take it to the finis line. So, the second rule: get a lot of these in you, or develop them.

3. Each piece of writing is, as already said, unique. Hence, there is no saying that you should do this, you should not do that, and so on. The most important thing to take in mind is that if there is a good story then there is a good reason that only one unique way will be able to tell the integral story in full force. So, the third rule: find out whether telling the story is best accomplished in first person or third person. Again, sometimes, very rarely, you will need to answer whether the narrator in your story is going to be a human or a non-human character. Let it be such that your story will do all the choosing.

4. Stories are dynamic, and so are the characters in it. They change with time and mature. Hence the fourth rule: be flexible with your story as well as the characters in them. This implies that your rules have to be flexible too.

5. (This point should have been put at the top, but it isn't, and there is a very good reason.) When you are once into writing, it is advisable to find your motivation to do so early in the process. What motivates you to write? What are the inspirations? The essential point here is to find the answer to the question "Why?". Why do you write in the first place? The answer to this fundamental question is the factor that drives you on, that motivates you to write, that provides the necessary inspiration, or the "REASON" behind it all. While some people write simply for the sake of writing, it is imperative that you find your own answer. As for me, personally, I write because if I don't I feel like someone trying desperately to get out of a dangerous drug abuse. It kills me if I don't write. And writing keeps me sane. The reality of the situation is such that if I do not find an outlet to express myself, I simply go insane. Hence, the fifth rule: find your answer to the question "WHY?".


6. As individuals, we tend to follow our own paths in our own speeds. There are limitations of what we can achieve and what we cannot. I have found that it applies to writings as well. Even the themes we choose, the characters we develop, the storyline we adopt and the personal priniciples we follow as to what to include and what not in our writings, are all different. As for example, I do not particularly write about eroticism: my morality does not allow it to certain limits. I also do not particularly concentrate my efforts on sex unless it is technically acceptable or can be an inherent part of my story without making it an erotic one: I take it that my characters should choose what to talk about and what not. But again, choosing one theme, or one particular storyline can prove extremely difficult when the story progresses. I can choose to create a fictional universe completely different than that we live in but I should also be capable of giving life to it including its creatures and creations. I might sit with a pen and a notebook for hours on end but I should be able to bring the characters to life. A world of fanciful ideas with mythical beings and superhuman characters might be interesting to read but equally difficult to write down. And it reminds me that I should be aware of my personal limits as to what I can achieve to bring a story successfully to its conclusion. So, the sixth rule: know your limits. Perhaps it is better to put this in another way: Is your idea able to transform itself into a readable story? Does it have meaning? Does it have purpose?

7. The race against time. When you write something, do you compete with time? Do you race yourself to finish a work in a certain number of days? While it may sound like a brilliant idea, it may not be that much helpful in producing a meaningful story, at least not for most of us. Well, it certainly produces countless numbers of snippets and ideas, no doubt about that, but it will take a rather long time in arranging all those snippets, passages, paragraphs, sentences, words to produce something that can be called a story. I personally find racing against time only gives me tons of pressure which can prove harmful to writings. It does not mean I am not capable of doing so given the necessary drive or backing, but I prefer not to. So, I do not take such challenges against time. Instead, I let the characters grow, mature and develop so that they can tell a better story themselves. Afterall, it is their story, not mine, and they need time to grow, to develop and to mature. If you are adept in such a race then you are really gifted. But for me, it has always been better that I realise my limits of what I can achieve given sufficient amount of time. Time does not wait, sure, but it is not always better to run against it.

More will be added in time, and as permitted by the limited supply of internet connection I am able to lay my hands on.

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