JUST STARTING TO WRITE? Keep it short and simple
If you’re just beginning to write for the public, do not attempt composing lengthy or complex pieces. If you’re interested in poetry, do some lines of free verse or simple rhymes if you have the flair for that. As for stories, do small pieces that focus on one or two people and a simple incident or part of an incident.
Work on something interesting or unusual, like an enlightening conversation you had with someone or one you overheard; a rare or largely overlooked incident you observed; a quarrel, an act of kindness …; something that can be easily reported or fabricated without the need for too much context.
When you master writing several paragraphs with few or no mistakes, then you can proceed to longer and more complicated pieces. But however much you grow ultimately, you will find that simplicity or readability and brevity are elements of good writing. Unnecessarily complicating or elongating your writing serves no useful purpose unless your priority is not to be read and effortlessly understood.
And before you conclude, read over to be sure your writing makes sense. If you appear to be rambling, ask yourself what exactly you want to say and see that it’s reflected in the piece. Here’s an example of a short fictional piece.
“WHERE ARE YOU?”
I was unable to sleep. I checked the time on the wall clock in the sitting room for the umpteenth time: it was 11:58 p.m. Soon, it would be the top of the hour and the 10-second chiming of the clock would begin.
I loved that sound before but I’ve come to dread it every night when I would wait for Ted to come home and the hours would pass with no sign of him. I think I’ll find a way to stop the chiming and just sit in the uncomfortable silence than have my heart wrung every time the clock plays its sequence.
I went to the windows facing the street to peep as I’d done a dozen or so times before. The street was as quiet as it should be. No cars were driving past and the lights in the two houses I could see were off, save the security bulbs outside.
So, I was the only one awake yet again. Ten days in a row. Nine days of married life. Married to a player who swore I was all he needed. That he had settled down for good. That I would never regret taking a chance on him. Lies, lies, lies! If only I’d listened to my parents.
Now, I have to live with my choice, with every night a vigil. I sat down on the sofa, hugging one of the throw pillows as though it were Ted and whispered, “Where are you? Can’t you see how hurt I am waiting here for you? Where are you, Ted? This isn’t what you promised me. Come home to me, my love! Come home, Ted!”
By then, I was sobbing. “I promise I won’t nag. I won’t scold. I only want you here with me. Come home, Ted.”
And the tears flowed like they do every night. Rivulets coursing down my face, ruining the makeup I’d applied after 10 p.m. hoping that it would be a good day and he’d be home before midnight.
As the clock struck twelve, I lost all control and began to wail, “Where are you? Ted, where are you? …”
Ⓒ Edith Ugochi Ohaja 2021
Takeaway: If you’re new to writing, keep your pieces short and simple.
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