Students of visual communication and English literature brushed up their writing skills at a workshop`Am I writing for the right reasons?' `Is creative writing a craft or a talent?' and `How readable is my writing?' If these were your questions, Wightman Weese would have answered them at the writer's workshop held recently at the Bishop Appasamy College of Arts and Science. U.S.-based Weese is the editor of many American books, and has conducted workshops in Nigeria, Kenya, East Africa and India.
Get your motive right"If you have been writing just for a byline or for the money, there's something wrong with your motive. One should write to entertain, educate, inform and inspire. Writers should meet the needs of the reader and not their own," he explained in one of the sessions, organised by Departments of Visual Communication and English Literature.
TipsWeese offered some tips for the writer: Put on paper what you think and feel. You must first set apart some time for writing. But be prepared to sacrifice something in order to find time to write. Choose a place to write in and concentrate on your work without your family or the mobile phone interrupting you. The difference between a goal and a pipe dream is that a goal has a deadline. If your wish to write has been a pipe dream so far, it is time to make it a goal. "Before putting your pen to paper, make sure the reader understands what you write. Avoid jargon the reader is not familiar with. Writing precisely helps the reader visualise what you write. Try putting `car' in the place of `vehicle' and see how well you reach the reader's imagination." For those who are ready to go about the task, the first thing is to decide the topic and prepare a draft. Put all your ideas on paper. Then, work on it critically. You cannot be creative and critical at the same time, he explained. When you are through, check out your writing for errors. "Writing is sitting on the computer or the writing table to open up a vein. Easy writing makes reading hard and hard writing makes reading easy. Try your best to make your writing readable." Short sentences and simple words make writing readable. As a writer, you must learn to differentiate between `you' and your writing. Cutting your writing can only affect your ego, not you, he said.
Think out-of-the-boxWho said, you are not creative? Anyone can become creative. Confidence about abilities and readiness to think out of the box, with some sense of humour and the right kind of introversion can make a person creative. You cannot change anybody's opinion, he said. Surprised? The secret of persuasion is to allow them to learn facts in a non-threatening way. All you can do is to change the way they feel about those facts. Persuasion fails when you do not know what exactly you want the other person to do, or when you are too quick to persuade. Weese also dealt with typography. He explained the right typefaces to be used and the correct spacing between lines and letters. The golden rule in typography is, do not use more than two fonts on a page. One can always edit a picture before placing it on the page. Decide what you want the picture to tell the reader and change it accordingly. Avoid pictures of people looking away from the page. Also, when placing two pictures, side by side, take care to see that they have similar lighting, brightness and size. He said that good writing is a combination of talent and craft. Those who are good in verbal communication are usually good writers. These days, writing is taking a conversational style, he observed.SHARON PREETI