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Principles of writing

MMAOTHO SEGOTSO
Writing is a medium of human communication that involves the representation of  “Language” language through symbols/the alphabet.

The productive language skill of writing has been paired with the receptive language skill of reading and their usage together is referred to as literacy. These two enjoy a symbiotic relationship with writing feeding off reading. In writing, one uses words, words accumulated through reading. But it is what is written that is read. It is on these two skills that education hinges. 

Why write?

Good writing skill allows you to communicate your massage to a large audience.

Writing is an essential skill. Without writing there would be no education as teachers depend on what is written to be able to know if indeed learning has taken place.

In the past people depended on letters mainly to communicate. This still continues, albeit with a new twist by way of emails and texts. Not even internet has been able to replace writing. In fact, writing is the skill that runs internet especially social media.

Governance is founded on writing. Majority of intra and inter-ministerial communications are written communiques. International relations and trade depend on writing.

Print media refuses to go away no matter how much the internet tries to bully it. News still gets written.

It takes a unique kind of intelligence and gift for one to write well. It is through writing that one is able to express their deep emotions privately (journaling: therapists encourage their clients to). One’s work, learning and intelligence depends on and is judged through writing. Hence, most prestigious colleges and universities demand applications be accompanied by write ups.

Through writing one’s thinking is not only visible but permanent. Also, one is able to explain their ideas, beliefs and values to others. Writing also preserves ideas and memories. Through writing   one expresses who they are, people understand writers better through the written word. Writers entertain, exhort and edify. A good book is good for the mind.

Principles Develop your own style

It is good to read many prominent writers given it exposes one to different writing styles. However, what sets one apart as a writer is their own style.

Every writer has their own style, tone and skill to deliver messages in their own uniquely interesting way. You might struggle a bit in the early days, but you will get there eventually. The more you write the clearer and stronger your panache becomes. Your style is your footprint that nobody can erase. To date people still quote Shakespeare yet he died thousands of years ago!

 

2. Rich vocabulary flavours your writing

An avid reader makes a good writer. To have a rich vocabulary bank, you have to read like your life depends on it. Read books in line with your choice genre. However, novels are a must read as they usually are rich in language and vocabulary. Dynamic writers read widely.

Much as people like to read please write with good vocabulary, bombastic words used repeatedly are a turn off! It is wise to select vocabulary and use it sparingly so that big words do not mar your piece. You write for an audience, always ensure your writing is at par with their level of understanding.

It is good to aspire to be a sophisticated writer. However, there is a difference between sophistication and complexity. Stick to simple sentences and avoid long complex sentences as they confuse readers. You can be authoritative without bombarding your readers. There is sophistication in simplicity.

 

3. Pair with somebody

Even the best writers need a second opinion. A partner will edit your work and point at areas that need improvement. Your writing might appear perfect but a

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second eye will zoom on things overlooked.

If you work, find a partner at work. Similarly, if you are a student, there will be somebody who shares your passion for writing. As you keep adding others to the group, you can then ask seasoned writers to mentor and or workshop you.

 

4. Be confident

It is your gift and passion, be unapologetic about it. The same way a dancer owns the stage and mesmerises their audience, you too can use words and hook an audience for life. Writers are not called WORDSMITHS for nothing! Move away from the drab internet news and create your own world with a unique citizenry.

If you are a news writer it is always important to ensure what you write is true, always verify sources (always employ the principle of right of reply- Ed). Nothing makes a writer lose credibility and readership faster than fake news.

 

5. First drafts are always horrible

Take off is always hardest, finding an angle even tougher. You will have an idea of what the final piece should pan out like but starting will be a nightmare. The trick is to let the ideas flow freely and not block them by trying to refine them in the initial stage.

Your first draft will always leave you wondering if you even know the direction you want to take, but hang in there. Once you have put the ideas together, the smart writer in you will galvanise the work, moving things around, adding new words and expression. Giving it your kinda verve!

 

Types Expository

One writes to ‘expose’, inform, explain, describe or define their subject. This type is found in text books mainly. There are also some online writers who use this style, these are usually different field specialists like doctors, lawyers, engineers, economists, educationists etc. For instance, with the COVID19, health professionals have flooded the net with information educating the world about the virus. Expository writing brings facts and leaves opinion out.

 

Descriptive

The art of using words to create vivid images in a reader’s mind. Descriptive writing is by and large, fictitious. Here, there is a great usage of descriptive words and expressions like adjectives, similes, metaphors and symbolisms. Poets and novelists use this kind of writing. Descriptive writers explain things in detail and when they do not, they are trying to hook you by making your mind travel with them.  This kind of writing is usually for entertainment

 

Narrative

Story telling which is common in novels, poetry and biographies. Narrators can use the first-person narrative where they assume the position of the main character by using the personal pronoun I. Even in poetry, the poet can assume the position of the persona using I. Whatever is written is seen through the eyes of the I. They also use the third-person narrative where they write like somebody who observed things happen from a distance. This is marked by the use of third person pronouns like He, She, It and their plural forms. When writing a biography, the author tells a story about somebody they know/knew or have researched.

 

Persuasive

Biased writing as it takes the tone and opinion of the writer. This is the kind of writing that is used in commercial advertising mainly. All politicians and lawyers are persuasive writers, especially towards elections. Party manifestos are crafted by persuasive writers.  All activists: human rights, gender and political activists are persuasive writers. They use emotive language to sway people their way.

“Writing is an ego, you might as well admit it.” William Zinsser



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